Well, it pretty much (finally) feels like summer out there, and it looks like it, too! All over the U.S.A. it is pretty darn nice out. People are wearing their summery dresses, their shorts, their sandals, their T-shirts and pants, without even bothering with a jacket just in case. It's warm —balmy, really — in New York City. There's a gentle breeze flowing into offices with open-able windows. I'm drinking iced coffee. The sun is shining, and if we're lucky and can believe the weather people, it's going to do this for days, maybe with a bit of cloud cover, maybe with a thunderstorm or two. Oh, the summer thunderstorm, one of the additional joys of the season. Another one: The outdoor parties have begun. It's summertime, summertime, summertime.
Every year around this time we get geared up again, right? Because this is the exciting time, the transitional moment when the coats get put away (and maybe cleaned), when the storage bins are pulled out from under the bed and the flip flops are donned again, when we think that anything is possible, because we're not wearing black tights and a parka, and we're not too hot, yet, either. What to do to make the most of the time that will ensue?
Get Your Air Conditioner Ready. The time to buy and/or install is right about now, or at least in the next few weeks, before it gets really hot and there's a run on machines. A previous record high on May 26 was 95 degrees, and last year by mid-July New York City temperatures had reached 90 a total of 12 times since June 1. Be prepared! (Shop around for discounts.) Related: Do you have a ceiling fan? Dust it! Buy a new floor fan! Treat yourself right; if you don't, who else will?
Ask for Your Summer Vacation Days (or Your Summer Fridays). This is very important. Also, find out if you have summer Fridays. While you're at it, plan your vacation/staycation/whatever it is you're doing; you're going to want a few plans to throw around when people ask you if you're "up to anything fun this summer." If you don't snag the particularly popular days off now (especially those coveted around-a-three-day-weekend days) someone less deserving than you will.
Prepare to Cope With Your Summer Fears. What's to fear in the summer that's not so scary in the winter? It's that time of year again when the old air-conditioner-falling-out-of-the-window neuroses pop up again and prevent us from leisurely walking close to buildings. This is fine, though, because it keeps us from being dripped on by something gross that's coming out of the air conditioner. Other summer fears may involve fear of burning in the sun (and developing melanoma or wrinkles), fear of being so sweaty your face melts off, fear of not eating enough lobster rolls, fear of sandals that seem comfortable at first but then become vicious foot-brutalizers, fear of your summer share being terrible, fear of people who have summer shares, fear of Having a Bad Summer, fear of bacteria-ridden pools, fear of getting bitten by a shark, fear of being bitten by mosquitoes, fear of going to the pedicurist for the first time this season and being mocked, fear of being mistaken for a dead person, fear of fear itself.
Think Longingly of Summer Produce. Cherries! Tomatoes! Fresh corn! Peaches and plums and all the summer squash you can eat. Watermelon. Strawberries! All the berries! And pie. Stockpile recipes if cooking's your bag.
Invest in Band-Aid Stock.* Here's what's going to happen. It happens every summer. You will, at some point, wear a pair of shoes that hurt you. And you will, because your foot has become so very weak and soft and no longer able to rough it, scream in pain and want to throw your shoes into a ditch. But you can't, because this is the only pair of shoes you have with you, or maybe they cost sort of a lot, or you have your running shoes on hand but you're wearing a dress and that would look silly. You will get yourself to a drugstore, and you will see the Band-Aid aisle ransacked, and you will look down at the feet of others, dappled in plastic and Neosporin, and you will realize that you really should have bought a bunch of boxes of the indispensable product and also some J&J stock back in May. *Any actual stock market purchases based on this advice are made at the buyer's own discretion and peril.
Spray-Tan, if You Must. If you're going to complain about how pale you are all summer, you might as well get this going early, and do it right. It's the temporary equivalent of the calf implants that you can enjoy all your life instead of just in your 70s, right? You can also just come to terms with not being tan, and then you don't have to worry about weird orange marks appearing at strange places on your body. (Say no to calf implants, while you're at it.)
Prepare Your Wardrobe. Pull the old box of summer clothes out from under the bed and dig through it and see what's worth hanging onto for another go-round. Buy a new swimsuit! Find your sunglasses. Some new flip flops (if you approve of flip flops) are probably in order, because the ones from last season are a germy mess that we shouldn't discuss. Buy some new white shirts and tank tops and cut off those jeans if you want to. Put your winter coat in storage after, yes, maybe cleaning it. (If you want?)
Iced-Caffeinate. I've been doing this all winter but I haven't drank a drip of the iced coffee I've stored in the refrigerator thinking, maybe, someday, I would. It's time to pour that stuff out and start anew (with a clean pitcher). And maybe make some ice, and buy some popsicles. Related: It's Mr. Softie time! Train your ears to recognize the notes within a millisecond for best ice cream effect, or to run, run, run away.
Get a Summer Song. Whatever you choose, old favorite or new official hit, this is your musical mantra for the next few months. You'll play in on your iPod or on your car's CD player as you head to the beach. You'll listen to it when you get out of the shower and prepare for the night's al fresco dining experience. You'll bring this tune to the park as you sip wine from a bag and relax, headphones in. You'll listen over and over and finally grow sick of it, but not until at least early August, when you can replace it with another song to get you through the dog days.
Dream. What will happen this summer? Make your seasonal resolutions! Summer romance. Summer health plan. Summer lobster roll plan. A trip around the world! Running through the sprinkler until you collapse in laughter like way back when you were a kid. You've got three months, starting in just a couple weeks, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, which you can consider a reasonable time frame in which to get something done, after which you can either walk away or continue it, because maybe you started something that should last longer than simply a summer. So ... dream.
Inset via Flickr/eyesogreen; Flickr/Krista Kennedy; Flickr/Mike Bitzenhofer.