It was at a birthday party recently over craft beers and pizza at Pizza Port in Ocean Beach where I heard the woe of many late-20-somethings expressed with sullen nostalgia. My boyfriend's friend Ashton lamented how, as adults—and reluctant ones at that—we no longer have the benefit of a summer break.
"I wish I could take the summer off from my real job and work at a place like this for the summer. Just have a fun summer job like when you were in high school," he said.
It got me thinking about adulthood and how crappy the transition from kid to grownup can be. This is coming from a woman who got a "serious" job and married while still in college. Granted, I showed up to work hung over multiple times a week, taking the occasional barf break in the alley behind the office. But still, where was the fire, kid? Why the need to rush things?
Later, with an obscene level of introspection, the fear of never amounting to anything did it. That and wanting to prove to my overbearing Mexican family that I wasn't the baby anymore but a strong and independent woman who only needs to borrow money (that I would definitely pay back) every once in a while.
Once I got laid off from that job and my marriage went shitty side up and I had to borrow a lot of money (that I would never pay back) all the time, I surrendered and decided to embrace the warmth and comfort of immaturity. I put on my conductor's cap and conducted the Hot Mess Express for years.
For some reason, I thought being a kid and being an adult were mutually exclusive. I either had to have it together completely or not at all, which, as we all know, is not only not very fun but also not very possible. So Ashton's wish to marry the two rang very true for me, as well as the others in on the conversation. It's the plight of the over-25, who wrestle with wanting to be Toys-R-Us kids while living in a house where you don't wake up to random dudes sleeping on your couch.
Why can't we have work summer breaks? Why can't we get a mini vacation from being practical adults with responsibilities? I like candy and vegetables. I really do.
I thought about it later and realized that while I can't, and actually don't want to, step away from my job to work at a pizza joint (dealing with the general public is my worst nightmare), I give myself plenty of breaks from adulthood, especially in the summertime. One of them is my favorite warm-weather pastime—getting super-drunk at the park.
There's nothing I'd rather do on a gorgeous summer day than lay on a blanket with friends with a bright sky shining above me, completely shit-faced. If cheese is involved, double-win. It brings back memories of ditching gym class to drink purple Mad Dog 20/20 at Luckie Waller Park in the South Bay (its proper name is Montgomery-Waller Park, but no Southsider calls it that). Drinking at a park has been a longtime hobby. My name is Alex, and I'm a parkaholic.
Now, because I am an adult, I do it up classy, with wine or homemade cocktails stored in a Tupperware jug and without the constant fear of getting busted by the cops.
Why do I not worry about getting busted by the cops? Because I know all the parks in San Diego where you're legally allowed to drink. Seriously. My boyfriend, who works in local government, and I looked up city code. Refer to San Diego Municipal Code, Chapter 5, Article 6, code 56.54B and 56.54C. This ain't my first rodeo, you guys. When it comes to my park drank, I don't mess about.
Since this column's in the Summer Guide, I thought I'd share some of my favorite parks to get turnt up (my niece taught me that piece of new slang) without running into issues with The Man. It's our adult summer break, everyone.
The city of San Diego uses word trickery to make you think alcohol isn't allowed in certain parks. Signs will say things like, "This area has a 16-hour ban on alcohol," which novice parkaholics may think means no drinking allowed, ever. Wrong. It means there are eight whole hours when you can wrap your lips around the sweet nectar of the dark lords. Nice try, San Diego. But you can't fool this drunk bitch with your word games.
Balboa Park, for instance, has nine lawns where you can legally get your swerve on from noon to 8 p.m. Those include the Recital Hall Lawn, International Lawn and, my personal favorite, the lawns in front of the Botanical Garden. Ah, the memories of all those bottles of wine consumed on that fluffy grass. The view is lovely, if not ruined by the occasional Midwestern butt posing by the koi pond. This is perfect for a mellow afternoon drunken park soak.
I also love Pioneer Park in Mission Hills. It's more secluded and has the added coolness of being the location of a 19th-century cemetery. There are still tombstones lining certain parts of the park as a nod to its history. You can drink there from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is fine, because you're going to want to get the fuck outta there before the ghosts come out.
Those same hours apply at Presidio Park, one of the prettiest parks in town. The view it offers alone is reason to spend an afternoon there. It's even more beautiful under the fog of a good buzz. Am I wasted or are there two USD campuses floating on a cloud?
Now, charge forth into summer—beer, wine or Mad Dog 20/20 first. The parks await.
UPDATE: As a gift to all of you fellow park drunks here is a map (courtesy of map maker extraordinaire Kevin Highland) of every park that legally allows alcohol consumption along with the hours that you can get your public tipsy on. We checked the municipal code, but I recommend that you check again before cracking open that bottle of peach navel Boone's Farm at the park, just in case.