When Labor Day Meant Something Different

Labor Day, making friends, humor, Modern PhilosopherI don’t know about you, Modern Philosophers, but when I was a kid, I hated Labor Day because it meant it was time to go back to school.

Sure, I was a little nerd who got straight A’s, but I did not like school.  There were Nuns there, my classmates didn’t understand me, and my stepmother put so much pressure on me to be the smartest student in the class.

Needless to say, I dreaded Labor Day Weekend.  Summer was ending, and we had to pack up the summer house and head back to Brooklyn.

Did I mention that we summered on Long Island?  I’m making it sound snootier than it actually was, but my stepmother had a place on the island, so we’d spend our summers there.  My poor Dad had to commute into the city on the Long Island Railroad everyday, but the man never complained.

I, on the other hand, was never a fan of Long Island summers.  Life in Brooklyn was awkward enough without my disappearing for ten weeks.  While my classmates were bonding on the mean streets of Brooklyn, I was off not making friends with an entirely new group of kids.

It takes a lot out of a kid to be socially awkward in two completely different social groups, you know!  I would just start to get to know the Long Island kids when it was time to say goodbye until the following June.

Labor Day, making friends, humor, Modern PhilosopherThis was back in the dark ages before social media, so it’s not like I could text or keep up with my summer friends on Facebook.

And there was no way in hell my stepmother would allow me to run up the phone bill by making long distance calls to Long Island!  So, basically, any progress I made on fitting in and being a normal kid just got flushed down the toilet when we piled into the car for the drive back to Brooklyn.

I know the summers on Long Island were supposed to give me an experience that most kids growing up in Brooklyn never had.  I get that and appreciate it, but all it did was make me realize that I was horrible at making friends no matter where they might live.

At least on Long Island, I could ride around on my bike and make up stories in my head about the great adventures I wished I was having.  I fondly remember filling up a spiral notebook one summer with a Goonies kind of story about a group of kids who find treasure buried in the woods on Long Island.

Labor Day made me sad and anxious because going back to school was a lot of pressure for me.  During the summer, I could still be a quirky introvert, but I got away with it easier because I could just run off and hide.

Labor Day, making friends, humor, Modern PhilosopherWhen I was at school, there were classmates and teachers from whom I had to try to hide how awkward I was.  Have I mentioned that most of those teachers were Nuns?

On top of that, there was the soul crushing pressure of having to be a perfect student.  I just wanted to be a normal kid, who went to the park after school to play ball, learned how to talk to girls, and enjoyed life.

Instead, I had to go directly home and do my homework.  If I brought home a grade that was anything other than a perfect score, I was interrogated, for what felt like hours, about why I had failed to achieve perfection.

I never had a chance to make friends.  No one ever invited me over after school, but I guess that didn’t matter because I would not have been allowed to go.

School was my life, and the pressure of it all led to a weird list of medical issues.  Don’t even get me started about the time I fainted on the bleachers during rehearsal for the school music festival.

Because of all this, Labor Day has never been my favorite holiday.  In fact, it might very well be my least favorite holiday.

When you lose out to Arbor Day by a large margin, it’s really saying something about the negative impact you’ve had on someone’s life!

Labor Day, making friends, humor, Modern PhilosopherBut I hope you have a happy Labor Day.  I’d never want anyone to associate the holiday with the anxieties that I do, so by all means, go out and make amazing memories that you can blog about someday!

And don’t worry about me.  I don’t have to go to school on Tuesday.  I’m going to be just fine…

Is there a holiday that conjures up bad memories for you?

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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8 Responses to When Labor Day Meant Something Different

  1. lydiaschoch says:

    Those are all excellent reasons not to like Labour Day. I’m glad you no longer have to go to school. Do you think of yourself as someone who has a lot of friends now? Your online persona is so friendly and gregarious that I never would have guessed you had trouble with that.

    Christmas is the holiday I struggle with. I’m not religious at all and live thousands of miles away from the relatives I have warm and positive relationships with. The relatives that live close by are religious*, abusive, and do not respect boundaries. So Christmas is a reminder of all sorts of difficult stuff for me, and I generally don’t have a lot of company on it.

    *To be perfectly clear, I love and accept everyone. But there’s a massive difference between personally believing in religion X and following rule Y and trying to force everyone around you to be X and follow Y, too.

    I’ll be thinking of you this Labour Day weekend. I hope it’s a good one for you. Do you have anything fun planned for it?

    • Austin says:

      I’ve been on vacation all week, so I’ve been relaxing, running, writing, and reading. The Yankees game is on TV here on Labor Day, so I just plan to relax and watch the game.

      I have friends, but not as many as I’d like. Still very much a quirky introvert…

  2. beth says:

    the good thing is that now you are in control of your own life and can choose to do or not do what you want without having to answer to anyone. no more oppression – you are free

  3. markbialczak says:

    In the summers of my youth, Austin, I always spent a week (short and not the same, I know) bouncing between the apartments of my two sets of grandparents in Brooklyn as a change of pace after we’ve moved out to Long Island. The city kids tried to give me a chance but … I was that Long Island with the funny glasses who only wanted to talk about the Mets. Then there was the summer I came down with the chicken pox at the very start of that week and didn’t want to tell my grandparents because we had tickets to three Mets games. I became the Long Island kid trying to hide the red dots with long sleeves and pants on the hot days.

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