The SPF of Butter

Becoming an adult is going outside and getting brutally sunburnt after one hour at the beach because instead of spending your summers outside you spend them in an office working an internship and instead of spending your fall and spring playing sports you spend it in the library.

That’s the most dramatic way of saying that I got burnt on the first day at the beach. Being dramatic and twisting mundane stories into metaphors for way too deep themes is kind of what I’m best at though, so I’m sure Lennon wasn’t too surprised when I texted her that first paragraph yesterday. Despite making fun of me for the existential thoughts that came to me as my skin continued to get redder and redder with each coming hour, we both did see a lot of truth in the matter.

In the fall during high school when I would be wearing the shortest shorts my parents would let me out of the house in to practice field hockey for two hours, Lennon was running on the track surrounding the field for cross country. In the spring it was the same thing, but lacrosse for me and track for Lennon. All that to say, we were out exercising in minimal clothing, a glaring sun, and upwards of 90 degrees for a minimum of two hours every day. Weekends were filled with tournaments and meets, and our skin was fully adapted to the sun. I remember not needing to put on sunscreen before practices because, “I would only be outside for two hours”, and that teenager was right– she never got burnt during practice.

Summers were filled with games, practices, camps, and generally buffoonery in the outdoors. Before my senior year of high school, I was practicing or training outside in some capacity every day of summer and traveling almost every weekend for tournaments. I was in the sun more than I was in my own house, and it was glorious. 

It’s quite obvious that I’m not that teenager anymore. Whether that be shown through being over 800 miles away from Lennon instead of a few streets over, or the fact that I cannot currently lean back in my chair or there will be a searing, burning pain. This previous summer especially, that ideology was flipped on its head. The closest thing I had to those high school summers was getting a desk right next to a window where I could overlook a golf course and imagine what the sun felt like while sitting in an office with the AC down way too low. This realization last night that this burn was my own personal and tangible representation that I am aging out of childhood put me in an overall bad mood, and made me feel immensely stimulated. Like any little stray hair on my face might be the breaking point. The thoughts I had while packing that I will never have another real spring break after next year came swimming back to me and I wondered what my high school self would say about me now if she knew I got this burnt on the beach after two hours outside with sunscreen on.

Despite only being on this trip for three days now, this idea of growing up has been way too prominent for my liking. I have an insane load of Spanish homework that needs to be completed for the Monday I return from break. News reports, presentations memorized, and grammar exercises completed in a proficient manner. This means every evening I must sit down at the table and work while my parents take a walk on the beach, so every day when the sun begins to go down and a slight nip enters the air I begin to dread the upcoming Spanish at the end of the day.

Being far too aware of myself and the things going on around me like this is kind of a speciality of mine (definitely not a brag). My parents (and I) hoped I would be able to come on this trip and let go of a bit of the weight on my shoulders for at least a week and decompress some. Instead, I went to bed last night tossing and turning over mind-racing thoughts that not only did I get brutally sunburnt, but soon I won’t even have a spring break to get burnt on.

The title of this essay is “The SPF of Butter” which alludes to a more quirky and less depressing thought process than the one previously rearing its head. See, when I sent Lennon a picture of my burnt shoulders paired dreadfully with the stark white lines where my swimsuit lay, her first piece of expert advice was to put butter all over myself. I don’t always understand Lennon’s thought process, but a key to our long-lasting friendship is that I do not question her brain and she does not question mine, we just accept it. She also advised me that I should smear butter on myself the next day as well, which had me ferociously Googling if butter had any trace of SPF– it does not. My journey also taught us that it is in no way a good idea to put butter on a sunburnt, as it traps the heat and makes it worse. I suppose if I ever get a really bad writer’s block for a new existential thought, I should just get sunburnt and let Lennon run a turkey basting brush dipped in butter over it.

I also suppose, no matter how much I miss her, it was a good thing Lennon didn’t come with me on this spring break trip, because if she would have told me in person to rub butter all over my body I would have done it, no questions asked, just for kicks and giggles. See, growing up does hurt (physically and mentally) but whenever I’m with Lennon, I don’t feel much like an adult at all.

Yours truly,

Calihan

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