Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: This is your life, so love it


Although summer hasn't come to an end, it is the days that dwindle down right before your eyes that make you miss the season, because looking forward to the days of summer is much better than remembering them.

It is the action of crossing off the days of your calendar until school begins, or for me the day I will leave the country to go to Madrid that make the disappearing days of summer real. Not to mention the replacement of pencils and notepads for the beach towels and umbrellas in the seasonal section of stores across town.

At this point, two weeks before my departure, I can feel my days being consumed with good-byes, to-do lists and deadlines. Commitments such as these are replacing the long walks on the beach, my swimsuit tan lines and three-day weekends. These commitments have proven to me why this summer is my favorite season, because you can put "take a long walk on the beach" on your to-do list.

I am one of the last one of my friends to leave for my study-abroad experience, the last one to say goodbye. It is leaving what you have that makes you appreciate a goodbye. It not only lets you, but it makes you, remember the past with that person over coffee or lunch. You remember to appreciate a real goodbye so the next time you two meet will be a real hello.

But it is that special someone or friend leaving that makes you regret being the last one to say goodbye. It makes you wish you were the one leaving. Because when you are the one being left, everything becomes so familiar. Everything becomes a constant reminder of that person who left you behind, a song on the radio, the scent of stranger passing by, or their old T-shirt they left behind.

The thought of saying goodbye has never bothered me because I am always the first to leave. Not this time. Because of this, I can feel my carefree summer attitude drifting away and taking a different route similar to way my friends will this fall semester.

This is the reason I wanted to use my Sunday off of work to take my summer back to the first day, take it back to the beginning.

Because it seems that when you are halfway through a good thing that is the time when you realize that it is almost over. In that moment you wish you could be back at the beginning. When it is your last time you wish it were your first.

But that is part of living, remembering the past, seizing the present, and planning for the future. But sometimes the future plan is so close, that when something that you have always planned and wished for in your future suddenly comes before your eyes you panic, questioning whether you are ready.

With that panic and questioning mind, my friend gave me this, "Love this moment, this moment is your life."

Because if you don't love your life, no one else will.

And when my best friends left the unforgettable summer of 2008 behind to study abroad in Florence, Italy, aside from being in tears, they left me with a simple sterling silver bracelet. The bracelet reads in all capital letters LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH. The words are simple, no rhinestones, or glitter, but the words are honest and true. Because if you open your eyes to this moment that is your life you will never have to be the last one to leave, the last one to say goodbye.

So as sun set behind the ocean on my day at the beach, I was welcomed into a quaint coffee shop by the charming lyrics of a local blues musician. He sang, "It is summertime, and the livin' is easy."

And this is where I spent the rest of my evening.


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