I tend to loathe summer. I used to think it was just the heat and humidity that bothered me, being a curly-haired person and all. But I’ve done some intensive thinking on the subject lately, and I’ve come to be about 98% sure that it’s more than that. The apprehension I feel toward summer has something to do with what summer used to mean for me, years ago, and the dread that comes on when things start getting humid and those sense memories get triggered.
It’s no wonder, really. There were some painful things wrapped up in the sensations of summer. First of all, there was the fact that summer meant wearing less clothing and the accompanying terror about showing my body that used to come on when it was time to don shorts and tank tops. There was the way that summer was synonymous with loneliness, when I was working night shifts at Starbucks and barely ever saw my mom even though we lived in the same house. When friends would all travel for months to summer programs in Europe. When the other high schoolers would be drinking fruity alcohol at house parties while I stayed home reading.
This isn’t to say that summer was all bad. I’ve had plenty of glorious abandon wrapped into summer days past, jumping into shocking-cold lake water and dangling my toes off the dock at twilight. It’s just that the dread tends to look past those memories and just dredge up the expansive loneliness of the warmer months.
Armed with some of this knowledge about what memories and sensations summer brings up for me, I tread gently into the humid days. I’ve been reciting an incantation. At first, I thought maybe this was a tool I picked up from Havi, but I looked around her blog a bit yesterday and couldn’t find anything to back that up. So it might have come from there, or it might just be something I thought up. Can’t be sure. Anyway, each time I’m bowled over by a rush of heavy summer emotion, I remind myself of one thing.
Things are different now than they were then.
My reality now isn’t the same as it used to be. These days, I don’t have to be lonely. I have a lovely fiancee who wants to hang out all the time. I have a 9 to 5 job that allows me to see people at night and on the weekends. I’m gradually cultivating my skills of reaching out for help when I feel myself flailing. I’ve worked up to the point that very little of my time is spent worrying about the size of my body (or even thinking about it at all), and I’ve realized that just because other people wear bikinis, I can choose to wear whatever summer attire I darn well please. I’m focusing on creating things instead of hating on myself nonstop, which is probably the most significant, yet also subtle, change.
And still, this isn’t to say that things are perfect now. There’s plenty of worrying going on, people are getting sick, layoffs are happening left and right, and the natural (and human-made) disasters just keep coming. Just like things weren’t all bad then, they aren’t all good now. Still, no matter what, I have this incantation, this reminder that circumstances are permeable, that life is in flux. Even though summer brings up those deep-seated painful memories, I have this tiny rope to grab onto, pulling me into a future where summers are breezier and lighter, and where past experiences are a platform for today’s sweetness.
. . .
Speaking of things being different, last Saturday, some of my food photos were hanging at the Greenpoint Food Market, a monthly event that features hundreds of homemade treats. I had a photo shoot in Manhattan and didn’t get to the market until the very end, but it looked like it was a hopping, humid good time. It’ll happen again in another month, so I hope to see you there.