Boy, the grow’d-up world is hitting pretty hard right now.

Boy, the grow’d-up world is hitting pretty hard right now.
As students are rushing out of schools to swimming pools and summer camps, dorms emptying and classrooms being locked up, I’m coping with the first summer that doesn’t involve me running off with them. For the first time in my memory, the end of the school year has no impact on my own personal schedule.
While obviously just a sign I’ve entered the professional world, the relative meaninglessness of summer is throwing off my perception of the passage of time. Surely summer isn’t just another season, a warming of the air to unbearable temperatures, and extension of sunlit hours. There has to be more to it. It’s supposed to be different — a two-month departure from the ordinary.
In past years, I’d be training for a short-term job right now, passing the time free from studies by filling my pocket with a little extra money. The first time I snagged a summer job, way back in 2004, it was stocking shelves at the old, dusty grocery store in my Colorado hometown. The following year I was teaching merit badges at a Boy Scout camp on the backside of Pikes Peak. The next, I up and left Colorado completely, living with family in Hillsboro while flipping burgers at McDonald’s, and the summer after that I was checking guests into the only half-decent hotel in Limon, Colo.
After graduating from high school, I still managed to find new and exciting ventures to fill my time each summer while studying at Bethel College. The first was spent working a sound board for a radio station in Wichita and allowing experimental pharmaceuticals to be tested in my body in Kansas City for a hefty stipend (a move I would still recommend to anyone with a couple of weeks to spare and an adventurous spirit). The next summer was spent frantically looking for work in a rapidly declining economy, the greatest study in failure I’ve personally experienced. The next was spent in another hotel lobby, and the next — last summer — was spent building a freelance writing business from the ground up, work which put me in position to nab this job when my predecessor left in August.
It’s clear to me that this is just another aspect of “growing up;” another something that is the way it is in the real world.
But you’ll understand it’s pretty difficult for me to stomach. After all, I grew up in a generation that was told unequivocally we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up, which we took to mean life would generally just be a free-for-all of awesome. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I don’t live in the treehouses from Swiss Family Robinson while snowboarding professionally during winter. Turns out there are serious zoning issues that get in the way of constructing above-ground housing complexes, and professional snowboarding apparently requires not only snow and mountains, two things Kansas apparently lacks these days, but also some level of skill in snowboarding.
I suppose I’ll just have to learn to cope with the mundanity of adult summers the same way other people do. I’ll have to learn to enjoy mowing the lawn. I’ll take a week-long vacation. Maybe I’ll hang a hammock in the backyard.
And if nothing else, I suppose we all have the Olympics to look forward to.

Ken Ward is a staff writer for The Sentinel. Reach him by phone at 620-241-2422 or email at