I’ve had what feels like a million great summers over the course of my life. But twist my arm to pick just one and I will always land on the summer of 2006 … 

I’ve had what feels like a million great summers over the course of my life. But twist my arm to pick just one and I will always land on the summer of 2006 — even though it seems like a lifetime ago. Especially when I consider friendship and how it helped me forge the path to where I am in life today.

I was fresh-faced at 22 and the world was my oyster. Well, the Midwest was, anyway. It was the summer I decided to go back to college, the summer I spent day after day with my vinas at the pool, the summer I worked my ass off for a job I loved. I even fell back in love with writing that summer. 

My core friend group consisted of people I worked with at a restaurant. Night after night, we would sling steaks and clean up copious amounts of peanut shells, followed by cocktails into the wee hours of the morning. We’d wake up around 10, go to the pool for the day, shower (or not), and do it all over again. We worked hard, played harder and it was FUN. I wrote about the moments using prose and poetry in journals that are now sitting at the bottom of a box in storage.

Not only did we create memories that will forever be frozen in time, we forged bonds that will never be broken. We loved each other, some in more ways than one. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant understands the close-knit nature of the staff — we date each other, break each other’s hearts, or maybe we found our soulmate (romantic or not). 

In fact, that summer taught me what I deserved when it came to love and friendship after I fell for my closest guy bud. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, but we were able to maintain a friendship. I became a stronger woman because of it and knew I couldn’t settle for less when that chapter closed.

That summer also helped me realize I wanted more for my life. My friends pushed me to write more, and when I decided to go back to school, they supported me. The ones I worked with covered my shifts when I needed to finish a paper. The ones I knew from school would study with me. My best friend and I would study for hours together with Law & Order SVU playing in the background. We’d help each other prep for tests and stay focused, even if we were ready to give up. My first semester back would not have been a success without their help.

That summer, I took my Dave Matthews Band obsession to the next level. I saw my first show in Cleveland with another bestie of mine and we spent the eleven years following them from city to city around the Midwest, meeting up with friends we made through Twitter. You might remember me mentioning it in my article about how it’s totally normal to make friends online nowadays. If it wasn’t for the summer of 2006 (or the creation of Twitter, let’s give credit where it’s due), I would have never met some of the ladies who have become some of my closest friends today. 

The summer of 2006 taught me so much about life, love, and friendship and for that I will be forever grateful. Each year, when Memorial Day rolls around, I often I wish I could go back in time and spend my days lazy by the pool, laughing about what so-and-so did the night before. Or how I could just take off on a random Wednesday and drive six hours away to see DMB play without planning ahead. I wouldn’t trade what I have now though, but it’s nice to reminisce on what I consider to be one of the most important summers of my adult life.