She was visiting for the summer and met him at the lake.
It was goose bumps and sun.
It was moon and stars and skin.
It was out of the ordinary.
It was a summer romance.
Maine has got to be one of the best settings on earth for a summer romance. How many hundreds of thousands (maybe millions?) has Maine hosted over the last 200 years…from stories like this one at a summer camp, to hometown love stories to visitor meets local in an idyllic Maine place for a peak season romance.
What makes a summer romance out of the ordinary, aside from bare feet in the moonlight, is its fated nature. A summer romance is self-contained; it starts when the rest-of-the-year’s “ordinary” is left behind for a dive into the extraordinary. It ends when it’s time to return to whatever version of ordinary waits on the other side: going home, going back to school, going off to work, going away.
One of my all-time favorite movies, Grease, starts when a summer romance between its two main characters has just ended. Set in the summer of 1958, it was built on a premise I’m wondering about as I work on the Shape Of Love film.
In Grease, Danny and Sandy didn’t know anything about each other’s “ordinary” except that she was from away and he was a local. They were free to be extraordinary, in part because the summer of 1958 offered them the space to explore, test, try, invent, learn, share and be in their romance. They were influenced by their “ordinary” but not defined by it or tethered to it.
I’m thinking a lot about that as I compare summer romances before and after digital connectivity. Connectivity puts a mighty spin on the phrase, “no strings attached.” In a connected world in “connected” summers, what do the invisible strings do to the space and freedom to explore, test, try, invent, learn, share and be?
Is the premise and the possibility of summer romance what it used to be?
When I looked up Grease to see what year the movie came out (1978), I saw that a prequel is in production which will show the story of Danny and Sandy’s summer romance (we got to hear his-and-her versions of it through the song, Summer Nights, in the original). No coincidence, the name of the new movie takes a cue from the song!
Researching Maine summer romances, I’m reminded that endings come in all kinds of emotional flavors. To finish on a good one, I’m pleased to report I’ve heard many happy endings that go something like this, “The summer ended, but the romance didn’t!”