Somewhere around the end of July I heard someone lament that summer was almost over.
I was gobsmacked. “What?!” I shrieked. “Summer isn’t almost over. The track just opened, summer just started!” But despite my protests, the world kept acting like autumn was right up on our ass. School supplies appeared in Walmart. Vermont began a frenzy of advertising for their fall vacations. And it became almost impossible to ignore the bright red leaves that began littering the hiking trails with an alarming rate.
But I wasn’t buying it. See, summer in Saratoga Springs doesn’t really begin until the Thoroughbred race track opens. It’s only at the end of July, when the track opens, that tourists descend upon us and the town really explodes.
During the day, we go to the race track and gamble and drink.
And at night, we party at the downtown bar district.
It’s an intoxicating ebb and flow of alcohol and light and energy and fun.
So at the end of July, when the rest of the world is hot and sticky and bored of the season, summer in Saratoga Springs was just ramping up. There was sunshine to soak it, beer to drink, horses to bet on and money to lose. There were bars to hop, bands to sing and dance to, greasy 3am food to eat, and a myriad of different forms of alcohol to sample. There was so much living yet to be done, hours of the night to be burnt, so many bad decisions to be made and hangovers to suffer. Track season is only 46 days long, and while Saratoga Springs is a fantastic town to live in all year round, there is nothing quite like track season.
And we intended to soak of every motherfucking moment of it.
But now, 46 days later, I’m ready to say that summer is over. Truth is, I’m tired. I’m tired and battered and maybe a little bloated.
Because track season is only 46 days long, there is a pressure that we all feel to cram as much fun and life into every single one of those 46 days. They become a blur of track days and bbqs with friends and happy hours and impromptu meet ups at this bar or that. Texts come at 11pm saying, “You guys up for City Tavern?” or 1am saying, “You guys still in ‘Toga?” and because we can never resist the chance to have a drink with friends we jump off the couch and throw our shoes back on and disappear back into the night, even though we called it a night an hour ago. We stay out until 3am with one set of friends and still manage to make it to the track by 1pm first post to meet another set of friends. And after much trial and some painful error, we perfected the timing and formula of alcohol consumption that allows us to start drinking at 10am and continue far into the night without a hangover the next day. Because track season only comes once a year, and we must grab it with both hands and squeeze every last drop of life from it that we can.
But 46 days later, we’ve had enough life. Our sleep schedule is erratic and inconsistent, and our eating schedule isn’t much better. We actually ate dinner at 11:30pm one night. Though we’ve both been good about pacing our drinking so that we don’t lose control and neither of us has had to suffer the wrath of a hangover, that much alcohol has left us feeling very…blerg. Like I find myself craving water. Our favorite drunk food, concoctions of carbs and grease and cheese, are losing their appeal and becoming hard to eat. Both of us have expressed a desire to start actually taking care of our bodies again. I feel very…chewed up.
And I’m also ready to lose the pressure to have fun until I pass out. The need to go out every weekend, to find the hottest spot and the wildest party. Truth is, there is a lot of fun to be had in Saratoga that isn’t quite so hip and sexy. I’m ready to do more hiking. To go bowling. To frequent our favorite dive bar once more. To hang out at a friend’s and watch a movie. To go pick apples at our local orchard. To, I don’t know, stay home one night (*gasp*) and just have a nice dinner and watch tv and not panic because I feel like life is flying by me and I’ll never get it back. Sure, I’ll always enjoy going out on a weekend to the hot bars down on Caroline St, but I’m ready to be able to just walk in and order a drink instead of waiting in line at the door and battling the crowds of tourists for a drink or a chair. I’m ready to stop freaking out that my clothes aren’t hot or hip or expensive enough and feel comfortable going to a bar in jeans cotton button-up. I’m ready for everyone in town to relax a little, to smile a little easier.
I love track season, I really do. It’s beyond fun, and it brings a shock of life and energy to us and our little town. But during track season, I feel like the town and everyone in it is putting on a little show for the tourists, pretending that we’re always this hip and wild and sexy. And it takes a lot out of a person.
I’m ready for Saratoga to go back to just being Saratoga, and me to go back to just being me.
I’m ready for autumn.