Summer Love

By Justine Goode

“Tell me more! Tell me more!” As early as June, you can imagine hearing the plea on the first day back at school — a crowd of friends begging for every detail of your summer days and nights. You can only hope that sometime within the next three months, you’ll meet someone and finally experience kind the summer love you’ve watched unfold countless times onscreen. But Ava*, Natalie*, and Dylan* didn’t have to rely on John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John  for their dose of summer loving as their own romances took shape both halfway across the country and the globe.

The Co-Workers

For Ava, a family vacation house proved to be a perfect backdrop for a summer romance. The annual visit to the lake had resulted in previous flings, but Ava didn’t necessarily have the same expectation for this summer.  She got a job at a local bistro as a way to pass the three months, and began her training with Riley*, a fellow waiter who was also from out of town. After work, the two kept running into each other around town and at parties. The proximity helped a relationship to develop, but the two tried to keep it low key.

“It was casual, because we knew by the end of the summer he’d be going to school in Cincinnati, and I’d be coming back to L.A.,” Ava said.

The two stayed together even after work was over, sometimes just talking and sometimes going to events like a Wiz Khalifa concert. Sometimes Riley would even drop by her house to have dinner with Ava and her family. After the first of these visits, her siblings could tell there was something going on between them.

“Since we go away every year, summer romances are a thing with my siblings,” she said. “Everyone knew, ‘This is Ava’s summer.’”

The relationship ended with the summer, but both are planning to return to the lake next year. However, it’s uncertain whether or not a sequel will play out.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ava said.

The Other (Other) Girl

Natalie first saw Ethan* while sitting in a courtyard in Paris, surrounded by a group of friends from the five-week summer program they were both attending.

Though she thought the blond, blue-eyed New Yorker looked like a nice guy, “I honestly wasn’t interested in him initially,” she said. Not that he was lacking for attention—Ethan already had a girlfriend at the program, as well as a long-distance hook-up on the west coast.

The students in the program spent their days sightseeing around Paris, and one night, Natalie and Ethan found themselves sharing a seat on the bus ride back to the hotel. They realized they had feelings for each other, despite his other romantic entanglements. Both felt that pursuing a lasting relationship was unrealistic, and agreed that they would part after the five weeks were over.

However, they had to conceal their relationship while it lasted, and mostly limited their time together to the daily bus rides and nightly visits near the end of the trip when Ethan would sneak up to Natalie’s room. It was a risk, but they thought it would pay off.

“We weren’t worried about getting caught by staff, but by other people in the program,” she said. “The simple things, like hanging out together in our rooms talking, were the best parts. Any time we were able to spend together was sacred.”

In the end, no one discovered them, and the two parted happily.

“To this very day, none of the girls he was involved with know about us,” Natalie said.

The Long-Distance Relationship

When Dylan was first introduced to Rose* at camp, the chance of a romance seemed impossible, even though they’d barely even had a conversation. A mutual friend let Dylan know that she wasn’t looking, and he made a point of backing off for a few days.

“But then we started talking,” Dylan said. “And things changed.”

The small size of the camp made spending time together especially easy, and over the course of the month-long program, the pair’s initial attraction blossomed into a full-fledged relationship. They proved to be “ridiculously similar” people, with Rose claiming Dylan was the guy version of her best friend. The two found out that they were born only six days apart, and also discovered a somewhat bizarre coincidence — 17 years earlier, when Dylan’s mother was pregnant with him, she worked at the same New York law firm as Rose’s father before Dylan’s family moved out west.

“It’s really funny that we found each other randomly, especially because her dad knew me before I knew me,” Dylan said.

The couple decided to continue their relationship even after the camp ended, though they realized the long-distance aspect would make things more difficult.

“The distance is really hard, but we make do,” he said.

Dylan plans to spend a day or two with Rose when he flies to the east coast to look at colleges, and she’s already made a trip to the west coast. The two spent their time together in typical California fashion.

“Since she’s used to a cooler climate, I decided to take her to the beach,” said Dylan. “We spent the whole day sitting in the sand and talking.”

The One that Got Away

Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo met a summer love in high school, on a bus ride heading to church camp in Estes Park, Colo. His name was John, and he was from Placentia, nearly 100 miles north of her hometown of San Diego. The two ended up spending the nearly 20 hour ride talking in the bus’ overhead luggage compartment. Once they got to Colorado, a romance began, and inevitably ended, in typical summer camp fashion. They lost touch once they got home due to the distance between their homes, as well as the lack of email, Facebook, or even private phone conversations.

“I didn’t even have my own direct line, so you couldn’t have a private talk with someone,” said Cuseo. “If you got a phone call, the whole house could hear.”

“In those days, phone calls cost dollars per minute,” said Upper School Dean Vanna Cairns. “It was much harder to get back in contact with someone who lived far away.”

The End (Or Not)

Cuseo has not since reconnected with John, though she didn’t necessarily intend for it to be that way. But with the major presence of technology in our everyday lives, the definition of a summer fling has changed since her experience.  Natalie and Ethan decided to end their romantic involvement, but they still remain “best friends,” despite living on opposite coasts of the country. Ava may not see Riley for a year, but she could easily send him a quick text asking how he’s been at any given time. And the rise of social technology has also made the possibility of a lasting long distance relationship more feasible—Dylan and Rose (whose relatioship statuses on Facebook say that they are “engaged”) can use Skype whenever they want to see each other, instead of having to buy an expensive plane ticket.

“It’s difficult to maintain relationships because the real world intervenes,” said Upper School psychologist Sheila Siegel. “But if you’re in contact all the time, and manage to stay a part of that person’s life, then it’s easier to sustain a relationship.”

However, Siegel said summer flings are less likely to last than relationships that develop in a less forced or crowded environments.

“Summer romances have to do with propinquity,” said Siegel. “You’re thrown together at a camp or on a trip, usually in a relaxing atmosphere that isn’t also filled with chores or responsibilities. Maybe you’re a little bit lonely or bored, and people look better than they really are when under stress.”