Broadstairs beach with nineteen friends, 6/07, shot on disposable.
My best friends and I before prom, 28/06, also shot on disposable.
My good friend Ciara and I on Whitstable train station bridge, 12/08.
Helium balloons on my 16th, 05/08.
My best friends and I on my 16th, 05/08, surprising me with a Go-Ape expedition.
Me, a day sometime in late August.
Sophie in August, taking photos in a barren field found out cycling.
My brother Jack, aged 10, swimming on a gold-draped evening in the South of France.
Grapes vineyards in the South of France.
11 weeks have passed and summer is finishing, a bittersweet end.
I had golden days, dull days, linked by a web of mildly pleasant, meandering days, indifferent to one another. My days have been strung with hazy ambition and procrastination, the interplay of the two forging a sense of lost opportunity and hedonistic idealism.
Mid-June saw to the end of 21 exams; days of realisation; regained freedom; lost motivation. I became meandering and unstructured, spending days reading and watching films without really utilising any hours. My braces were removed and I shopped for prom 2 days in advance, a night of sincerity and nostalgia, a sense of belonging, open friendships, sticky lemonade, the flash of disposable cameras and a sequence of the greatest year-six disco classics. June ended in a blur of house parties and garden gatherings, the air astringent with the clash of cheap perfume and breath lingering with scents heavy with adolescent reckless abandon. These house parties were a mix of terrible, (somewhat questionably ironic) fancy dress, even more terrible dancing on garage roofs and snooker tables and improvised chatter in line for the family bathroom now loitered with terrible teenagers.
Then the waves of the end to exams passed, and we settled into summer, futile plans and sticky thighs, expensive coffee in over familiar meeting points and afternoons spent lolling around fields, talking, eating, tuning into small talk and plucking the grass; blind, endless days tricking us into nonchalance.
July arrived, in a flurry of good friends and consequent good days. I headed to a beach with nineteen friends, a day epitomising all that I once desired adolescence to be. We swam as far as conceivably possible, listened to the Psychedelic Furs on cassette and danced to Dexy's Midnight Runners on a ping pong table. We headed back home late on the train, singing, laughing, irritating the remains of the passage in true adolescent style, dwelling, not for the last time, on the wonderful past day of egg and cress sandwiches, Budweiser at two ‘o’ clock and the liberation of swimming in the British oceans, seaweed, sand and all.
The end of July saw family days out, the end of our year eleven summer and the beginning of the family summer holidays. British weather persisted and moping, I dwelled on the past and the prospects, school work, results. I set out to look for work, and after a seemingly fruitless morning of high street patrolling, I received a singular phone call from a photography shop, which I can now identify myself with as an employee. In late July my friends and I organised an evening of GCSE book burning, leaving our eyes stinging and our clothes and throats heavy with the bitterness of smoke, though our feelings anything but.
I spent the initial weeks of August reading, educating myself, making a start too late on summer work. A harrowing visit to the theatre to see Orwell's 1984 left me feebly attempting to establish a voice, a persona, indifferent to influence, figuring out what identity is and what choice we have. I turned sixteen, a long awaited date filled with good friends, family and photos, but leaving me now feeling somewhat indifferent to age.
I began cycling again, feeling the gentle ache of strength residing in my core, emancipated from the confines of lazed procrastination. These days of bikes and picnics were heated by afternoon sun on my skin, watched through itchy eyes, my eyelids fluttering to bat away pollen, hayfever calling. I remember the onrush of fresh air as power built, and the pedals spinning by themselves; the irregular clicking of a camera shutter silhouetted against the melody of a crackling iPod. These were days of ambition; fuelled by an ongoing belief in persistence in achieving goals, honey skies tinged with hedonism - short of breath, legs flailing, I persisted.
Drowsy days, my stomach fluttering with the heaviness of a thousand butterflies, gave way to an onrush of dread for my results, both GCSE and accelerated AS results. Both were passed in a state of surrealism, the AAA at AS sending me into deeper burrows of anticipation over GCSE's, a still surreal revelation of 11 A*'s, to me an incomprehensible feat far beyond even my own expectations.
Escaping the buzz of results, I travelled down to the south of France with my family for eleven nights, a 12 hour car-journey of wind tunnelled through open windows on motorways and trees casting dappled light. These eleven nights, a small proportion of eleven weeks, were filled with hopeful wanderings and completing smiles, days of dry, comforting heat, sunbed naps and the humdrum of wildlife. My surrounding air lingered with the scent of mosquito spray, my fingers of croissant and my breath of good coffee and fresh French bread. Evenings were spent in the open, a series of cheap French wine and hot chocolate; sly breeze tangling salty hair, soft voices. A canoe trip saw to towering cliffs dense with broccoli-like formations of Mediterranean vegetation, an immense revelation of nature’s sheer surrealism. The waves sloshing over my ankles, I heard the smile in my brothers voice, 'Lauryn, there's more Rapids!' Stopping for lunch, peeling off a life jacket and cotton top and submerging myself in the cold water, too late realising the current has pulled me downstream, a subtle magnetism towards the finish line, 10 km away.
Once returned from France, I met up with family, holding my results for the first time, the feeling of surrealism yet to fade. I was faced with eight more days of summer, dulled by the British weather. Drowsily I chatted to friends, catching up, caught in a cyclical downcast mood upon hearing my friends’ tales of returning from Reading Festival, of which I wasn't allowed to go, my voice on these face-time chats monotone, flat with the downer of exclusion and envy. I tied my ballooning thoughts down with pen and paper, restricting myself to summer work. I worked tirelessly until Wednesday, and Thursday I entered my second day in the workplace, a healthy challenge, a welcome change. Three days of work left me aching with content, an end of summer bliss extended upon Saturday evening, the last hoorah of summer, an 18th house party filled with simple, pleasant interactions, solidifying my confidence and abilities in myself.
Mulling over these 11 weeks in eleven-hundred words, another summer season departed, the final few hours of endless days and starry evenings, fuelled only by prospects and ambition, I hear the rain at the window, and comforted, my mind bloats with sincere content.
Thanks, summer '15.