Friends, food, and the Fourth of July

Photo of railroad tracks

I’m back in Boston after the most enjoyable weekend that took me out of the city and away from the heat. I hope everyone else had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend as well, whether it was a few days on the beach, a poolside barbeque, or watching fireworks on the Esplanade. I realized this weekend that it doesn’t even matter what you do, as long as you’re surrounded by the people you love.

If you’re just out of college, holidays are the perfect opportunity to set some precedents for future mini-reunions and meet ups. When I was in college, I already knew that I’d made friends for life. After graduation, when everyone disperses to different cities with different goals and career paths, it can feel like the distance will cause a drift. This weekend only reaffirmed that my friendships are as solid as ever.

Poolside

And nothing brings people together like food. It is important to nourish the relationships you already have, and make a good impression for new introductions. My friends and I definitely indulged in nourishment, and it only helped fuel our epic weekend. I started mine off right with a backyard barbecue.

One of my go-to’s for summertime get-togethers is this Cucumber Mango Salsa, adapted from Simply Scratch. Refreshing, sweet, and a little spicy, this salsa is sure to win you love and affection from friends old and new.

Gather ingredients.

 Salsa ingredients

Slice cucumbers lengthwise.

 Sliced cucumbers

And scoop out their guts (or your salsa will be too watery).

 Cucumber guts

Lay cucumbers out to dry on a paper towel while you chop up mango & red onion.

Dry cucumbers

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add lime juice, salt and pepper. 

 Cucumber kaleidoscope

Stir and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Mango-Cucumber mix

If you can, prepare your salso day ahead of time for a greater intensity of flavor. I recommend serving with Tostito’s multigrain sccops, but this is also a great addition to salads or alongside some grilled seafood.

Cucumber-Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

  • Cucumber
  • Mango
  • Red onion
  • Lime juice
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: Jalapeño, avocado,  cilantro

Serve with: Chips, pita bread

Pair with: Salads, tacos, quesadillas, seafood

My gradual graduation

Photo of graduation caps

Courtesy of Betterment.com

This Sunday, I am going to GRADUATE. Actually, I graduated months ago, in December. But my college doesn’t hold a ceremony for fall graduates, so I’m walking with the rest of the 2013 class this weekend.

I feel like I’ve been in a kind of limbo ever since I “officially” finished school. Last semester, I attended my final class periods and handed in my final projects. Soon after, my status in the college database updated to “Former Student.” A month later, I received my diploma in the mail.

Throwback:

Packed and ready for Freshman year

Photo of packed car

Now, I’m finally walking, and I can’t say I’m all that excited. People keep telling me this is “a big deal.” Administrators have bombarded my cobweb of a school email, regarding my “huge achievement,” for weeks. Even in my final semester, during which I went part-time, I felt like I already had one foot out the door. And the other, tapping timidly at the future ahead.

What do I have to complain about? Absolutely nothing. Graduating early meant scoring a job in my industry, as well as saving a couple thousands of dollars in student loans and tuition costs. And honestly, I never knew I could have so much free time until I graduated (hence, this blog). I guess the distance between graduating and formally commencing makes me feel somewhat removed from the ordeal.

But I’m going to turn this post around. I am closing a chapter to my life that has been filled with discovery, laughter, and unmatchable friendships. So here are a few highlights from my college years, pulled from a colorful and limitless list:

I lived in a castle in Europe for three months.

Photo of the castle

I was published in a student literary journal.

Photo of The Black Swan

I spent spring break of my sophomore year in Athens, Greece.

Photo of Athens

In my first month of college, I made the cover of the school newspaper.

For being quarantined with Swine Flu.

Photo of swine flu

Courtesy of The Berkeley Beacon

Freshman year, I went to the Common for a picnic and homework.

And found myself in a haze of smoke.

Photo of the Common

Hemp Fest 2009

The BPD were kind enough to make an appearance at my 21st birthday party.

Photo of captain & fancy glass

I not-so-secretly stalked the more attractive members of my school’s alumnus.

Photo of Denis Leary

Last summer, I shared a 5-bedroom apartment with 7 roommates and a cat.

Photo of apartment

The cat escaped unscathed. (More later on my relationship with animals).

Photo of cat

I learned how to cook, and how to love to cook.

Photo of soup

I cyber-stalked and finally met Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Photo of Rob Gronkowski

I worked at a bookstore or a library (or both) the entire time I was in college.

Photo of bookshelves

I made the best friends, better than any I could have ever asked for.

Photo of the esplanade

Just like every portion of life, or every week, or every day for that matter, college was a series of struggles and successes. But what stands out to me the most is not a single challenge I faced or a trial I overcame, but the people who were there to shape those experiences. For me, college is not a dusty yearbook on the shelf or a piece of paper on the wall, but a living, breathing phenomenon that I will continue to take from, learn from, and carry with me for the rest of my life.

So thank you to all who were there for the journey. College is over, but we’ve got a lifetime to go.