3 women dancing during sunset at the beach

What happens when life doesn’t turn out the way you want it to? Here I share lessons from how I responded one summer after a period of heartbreak in what I refer to as my wild summer.

I awake late one Saturday morning with a heavy head, slightly hungover and having missed a long run with my running group. I reach for my phone and tilt my head in curiosity at what looks like a spider stuck to the screen. I recognize it as one of my false eyelashes from the night before just as I see the parking ticket on my coffee table. Right. I got a ticket before the night even started, the rest of the night I Ubered.

Reaching up to peel the remaining false lash away from my other eyelid, I shake my head at the memory of the previous night of flirting with random girls, dancing, cramming into a cab for a secondary drinking location, and walking. Had I really walked from Hillcrest to University Heights in heels? I look down at my feet. Yes. Yes, I had.

As I make my way to the kitchen for coffee, I realize I am too old for this nonsense. Still, I giggle to myself as I dump spoonfuls of coffee into the coffee maker at the realization that I am having a wild summer.

Disappointed and heartbroken after my long-term relationship ended, I threw aside my normal serial monogamist, goody-two-shoes self for one crazy, overdue summer. I wrote about my first night out in a decade as a single girl in a piece I presented at Lez Writes. What followed was a series of weekends, squeezed in between business as usual workweeks and workouts.

Among the highlights of the summer were a night that ended with 6 gay men in a hot tub, going on a day hike with a random woman I met, sneaking into a club with a line down the street behind a celebrity, staying out too late, drinking too much, and telling a girl at a pool party that I wanted to make out with her.

Ey yi yi.

I thought that summer was about losing control within parameters. But the truth is, I was trying to take back some control that I felt had been lost somewhere along the way. When the wild summer came to its inevitable end, I was ready to be the boring, Netflix-watching, professional chic I know myself to be.

In the process, though, I learned some things about wild summers that I share here. If you’re considering letting go and living a little, here are some tidbits of advice for the makings of a wild season.

  • Walk or Uber. I was fortunate to live in a neighbourhood that was within walking distance of almost everything, but still, I wound up with an assortment of parking tickets, walking back for my car in the mornings, and getting towed once. I made the right decision every time not to drive, but it was an expensive misstep to park in the wrong parking lots.
  • Get outside your community. I made out with many women in my community that summer and still run into them occasionally. It’s awkward. Because I wasn’t really being myself, I still feel like an ass about it.
  • Be honest. And then be honest again. My friends assured me that as long as I was honest about not wanting to settle down that I was in the clear. Still, my conscious tugged at me at times, especially when one of us felt confused. I learned that when in doubt, it’s better to say too much than not enough.
  • Check-in. After a few months of weekend partying and flirting, I realized that some of the decisions I was making didn’t make me feel very good about myself. Not only do I have my friends to remind me of my decisions (like every other time I see them), but I realize that my wild summer took a turn towards self-anger at times. It is clear to me now that I didn’t like myself very much at the time.  After checking in with myself, I knew it was time to stop.
  • Be yourself. Part of my desire for a wild summer was that I didn’t have typical partying college or post-college years in my 20s. Yet, I didn’t want to cross the pathetic line as a 40-something chic bounding around clubs making out with girls. At some point, I just didn’t want to be that girl.

The worst thing about my wild summer?  It’s a little embarrassing – acting a fool. But the best thing is that I no longer worry that I’m missing out on something when I’m staying in, working out, or acting rather ordinary. The secret best thing? I did take control back, and then realized I hadn’t really lost it in the first place. It was just hiding for a while under a broken heart and a stack of expectations about who I was supposed to be. Probably underneath the stack of parking tickets.