Beautiful Summers


“There is nothing I would not do for those who are my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey 

My younger self despised summer. The gooey heat combined with my warm wardrobe did not mix, and neither did I with the blazing sun and long days. To battle this, I used to read. Delving into a book gave me the comfort no summer day spent with friends ever could. But even within the stories, the summer is a time of happiness; of release. I found it so odd that, for me, the summer was when I was most alone. 

A few years ago, I entered a Saudi Arabian private school located in Virginia, and in came a whole influx of new characters in my life to meet, and shiny new summers to experience. I was a tense, tiny 6th grader who had come out of the worst summer of my life. I had moved from Texas to Virginia, and while I had been born in Virginia, all of my lasting childhood memories come from windy Texas days. Virginia, however, always lay in the backseat of my memory. And now I was returning. I met all these people I vaguely knew but didn’t know the names of. I saw all these places I could almost remember, but never actually describe. I had to give up everything I had known to be familiar to start on a clean slate that I felt I should’ve been comfortable with. 

I remember smoothing out my skirt and sitting in my seat, nervously tapping my foot to see where I would head next. I was a suburban southern girl full of a room of private school students, many of which had gone here their entire life. They gossiped and mingled as a shiver of anxiety crept up my spine with each moment that passed by. I couldn’t think of how this would turn out to be a good school year and had made up my mind that this summer would be even worse than the last. 

And that was when I met Reina and Nejim. 

We joke about how we knew we would be best friends from the first day we saw each other, but it’s scarily accurate how that prediction was. From the moment I met them, we were inseparable. My 6th-grade year was a blurry, enchanting reverie. That summer was when they finally started turning around. While spending my days getting lost in neighborhoods and gossip, life seemed brighter, and I finally started to consider everyone’s outlook on the season. I considered the fact that every notion I had about my summers was wrong and opened myself to a care-free season spent with the people I loved most. 

But bright summers don’t last forever, and Reina and Nejim both eventually moved back to Saudi Arabia, leaving me alone in icy cold Virginia. I had lost a gift I thought I would keep forever, but they slipped out of my grasp when I least expected it. It was dreadful, and each month became worse to trudge through. Finally, I found the escape of summer break, and the realization rang through my mind that since I wasn’t with them, the season only brought me back to that familiar feeling of being lonely. 

I had lost a gift I thought I would keep forever, but they slipped out of my grasp when I least expected it.

— Zainab Soofi

Now, I’m a freshman in high school. The years have flown by me and the only constant in my life has been them. I wouldn’t consider them friends anymore, because both are so much more to me and the word wouldn’t do them justice. These years, we can only chat online, but we have stayed together for better or for worse. I keep a dream in the back of my mind that after high school has blown over, we would find each other again, and I would spend another summer day hearing them laugh right beside me. 

Thank you, Reina and Nejim, for gifting me beautiful summers.