Lobster rolls, lazy afternoons at Popham Beach, free concerts at L.L. Bean, Cote’s ice cream on the green, and multi-day stretches of perfect weather.
Summer in Brunswick has gained legendary status at the College. Yet somehow in my four years at Bowdoin I missed the memo that summer is, in fact, the only worthwhile season to exist in Maine.
So as my self-imposed deadlines rolled right on by, unfulfilled (by Winter Break I’ll have an awesome job…by Spring Break I’ll have applied to a job…by graduation I’ll have 40 dollars…) and I faced one gigantic post-grad question mark, I decided to throw in the career path towel and eat as much ice cream as possible instead.

One month later, I commenced a summer of scooping Dark Chocolate Noir sorbetto at Gelato Fiasco and nannying part-time.

I wish I could state in writing that my summer was the idyllic mélange of Maine-y goodness that I always imagined it would be. I pictured myself making daily, sundress-clad trips to the farmers’ market, rising at daybreak for long, healthful jogs in the Brunsick Commons, and whipping up craisin-studded, massaged kale salads for dinner.

In reality, I spent my summer stocking up on ramen and 2-for-1 wine bottles at Hannaford, watching Netflix all day and scrubbing crusted gelato off of urinals all night, eating string cheese and Triscuits for dinner in bed at 2 a.m., and beating fruit flies to death with a dishtowel in my kitchen. It was a far cry from the picturesque scene of free-spirited maturity that I had painted for myself.

What I learned is that finishing your homework once and for all (or for now) doesn’t make you a good grown-up. I was still living alone and cooking for myself for the first time, without the support of Facilities, ResLife or Dining Services.

Nonetheless, figuring these things out in Brunswick provides the same sense of comfort that attaching training wheels to a bicycle affords a new rider. The friendly faces, old haunts and relaxed pace of the Brunswick day-to-day made these new adventures significantly less traumatic. 
Despite the comforts that residing in Brunswick provides for this transition, keeping it local after graduation has its drawbacks.

For one thing, there’s something about sticking around indefinitely that feels like a failure in comparison to all your peers taking off to Big Bad Cities across the continent (or rather, Boston).
I’m not just talking about the townie jokes that inevitably come your way. The stigma goes beyond that. I found myself constantly excusing my presence to close friends and unfamiliar customers alike, with lines like, “I just graduated in May,” and “I’m only here until I start my super awesome new job,” and “I’m moving to New York City really soon.” I am moving—joining the seemingly endless pool of fresh-faced NYC interns this month—but I still dreaded running into professors and peers, knowing that I would be compelled to justify why I wasn’t yet pursuing a career as a good math major should.

Ultimately, my obsession with validating my part-time jobs subsided as new anxieties cropped up with September’s impending approach. 

Throughout most of the sunny summer months, it feels like business as usual living in Brunswick as a post-grad. Your mailbox is still your mailbox, the sweaty self-conscious faces in the windows of the gym are familiar faces, and it doesn’t feel like trespassing when you miss your street’s trash pick-up and bring your recyclables to the Brunswick Apartments dumpster instead.

Then, sometime in late August, Little Dog Café puts out its “Welcome Back, Bowdoin students!” sign, on-campus parking lots fill up with cars jam-packed with cardboard boxes, plastic drawer sets and a fresh pair of Bean boots, and all your friends start posting irritatingly cheerful photos from the lobster bake. 

It’s around this time that you realize that there’s just not really a place for you at Bowdoin anymore. This is an undeniably depressing realization to have. 

If you’re like me, you may find yourself susceptible to tearing up at sentimental J.C. Penney commercials during this time. Still, despite how hard it is to feel like an intruder in a space that was so recently home, this sensation was just the push I needed to take off the training wheels and get up on that two-wheeler.

But hey, keeping the training wheels on for a few weeks never hurt anybody, did it?