OK. I know you’re cheating and
reading now anyway, but don’t. It’s still morning and
that means it’s cloudy and wet and not so happy. So go do
something else for awhile. Maybe go to class, if you have
those.

Steve Cotner

Now I’m going to assume that you’re playing along.
So let’s say it’s like 3 or 4 in the afternoon now, and
it’s 55 degrees and partly sunny. Lecturers’ Employee
Organization is on strike, and you’re sitting at
Dominick’s with a sangria, or smoking on the sidewalk at
Café Ambrosia. If none of this is true, I don’t really
care. It’s how things should be anyway — my point being
that today, on April 8, you have just about the best you could ask
for: no classes, a gentle breeze and some occasional sun.

We just came out of a long winter of some awful stuff. Students
have been fighting with the president for funding, girls have been
raped or not raped (it’s unclear), strange men have been
trying to re-write our civil rights laws and Seasonal Affective
Disorder has not been kind. There are still soldiers dying in Iraq,
security contractors dying in Iraq, Iraqis dying in Iraq. The
Federal Communication Commission has made swearing hard as hell,
and President Bush is still spitting out “freedom” and
“democracy” like they’re canned goods. Living in
Ann Arbor is getting more expensive by the minute, and all of us
have closets full of unpaid parking tickets.

But there are some bright spots. The University has considered
ending the ban on student-teacher relationships, so now you can get
out there in the grad scene, or even the
backdoor-of-married-professors’-homes scene if you’re
ambitious enough. Plus there’s the Naked Mile coming, and
it’s possible that people will both be naked and run a real
mile this year.

And this brings me back to my point: It’s really, really
nice out, and it’s getting nicer everyday. This has nothing
to do with all the problems I mentioned. Our student services will
still be in jeopardy, but it’s pleasant enough outside that
students can service each other in the Arb. We won’t stop
hearing about the war, but listening to the TV through our porch
screen-doors, it will be a sunnier, warmer war. We’ll eat
pizza and drink Boone’s Farm and fall asleep to Operation
Enduring Summer. It will be great.

I don’t mean to sound too flippant. The problems of this
world and this town are important to every one of us. But
they’re all going to be here in the fall when we get back (if
we’re coming back), and in fact they’ll be worse,
because the University is sure to sneak in some dirty policies over
the summer. But who really cares. We’ll play catch-up when we
get back.

If you stay in Michigan, take some time to learn why we put up
with this state for two-thirds of the year. Take a drive up to the
U.P., pitch a tent in the Porcupine Mountains, hang your food on a
bear pole and go skinny dip in Lake Superior. But be careful
— the rocks are slippery. When night comes, cook up some food
with the people you meet on the trail, then sit out by the water
and watch the stars. If the moon’s not too bright
you’ll see the whole Milky Way, and you can stare at the
Northern Lights spreading across the sky for hours, thinking
strange thoughts about our little planet.

This is why summer was invented. It was made for getting away
from everything, away from cities and clocks and cellphones and
suddenly discovering that you’re right in the middle of
something much bigger than you ever imagined — or perhaps
just remembering what you forgot during the long, gray school year.
Sometimes it seems like there’s not much to give thanks for
in this world, but there is one thing you can’t turn down.
You can say no to patriotism. You can say no to religion. You can
even say no to drugs. But there’s nothing that will make you
hate the endless blue sky and the water lapping against red
rocks.

So don’t despair about your tests and papers, or the fact
that this or that person is taking too much power in your
organization, or you still haven’t found a subletter, or you
think you don’t look good in your bathing suit. Who needs
bathing suits anyway? Try something new for a change. Climb on as
many roofs in Ann Arbor as you can. Ride your bicycle drunk at
midnight. If that’s illegal, call it civil disobedience. I
don’t care what you do, just make it good, and if you have to
say the summer went by too fast, at least make it a big flash of
brilliance. Do everything you can think of, until you just have to
stop thinking altogether. And when school comes back and reality
bites, don’t forget to yell at the president like it’s
your job.

Cotner can be reached at
“mailto:cotners@umich.edu”>cotners@umich.edu.

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