During one particularly hot stretch this summer—the kind of weather where I sit on my floor because it feels just a little cooler than the furniture—I found myself feeling a bit expansive, even maudlin. I was so miserable, physically speaking, but the misery (admittedly helped along by a few drinks, selected because they were more interesting than water and colder than nothing) somehow translated into a general good will. If my worst enemy had been there I would have asked him to bless me. It was that kind of mood.
It seemed unfair, in that moment, that I’d go to sleep and by the next day this feeling would have passed by, and eventually be compressed into a brief story of the column-opening variety. So I wrote myself a note to read when I woke up. But when I looked at the note in the morning it didn’t summon anything but the memory of having written it. I was left with only a story after all.
I hate summer, I should say. I understand there are people who claim to love it, much as there are people who claim to love eating ghost chili peppers or running, but they are obviously delusional. More than just about anything else—more than exercise, or hunger, or fatigue—summer reminds me that I am an animal with all the limitations that implies. I can’t go for long walks or even eat warm food. No matter how carefully I dress, a few minutes of simply existing in the summer heat will ruin even the most accommodating outfit. I will do anything to feel even a little less hot for a second or two. Winter is the season where reason reigns supreme. Summer is about humiliation.
But what I find the most irritating about summer, more than all the sweating and discomfort and trapped-in-a-meat-prison feeling it induces in me, is that I only have to step into an air-conditioned space to completely forget my misery. I can’t even remember what it was like to be as physically uncomfortable as I was a minute ago: just that I was. If I know that summer’s afflictions are only temporary, then why can’t I will them away?
The thought that a state of being will pass has always caused me more trouble than the thought that it won’t. It is demeaning to be in the throes of emotion—to be so happy you can’t focus, or so sad you can’t breathe—and to know you won’t always feel this way. Nothing sticks around. Well, almost. The past sticks around, ready to intrude at any moment, but while the past can bring consequences (and does), it can’t usher me into eternity; it can only demand I pay the bill for a meal I’ve already forgotten eating in the first place.
Summer itself has a kind of eternal feeling—the days are long, things move slowly, nothing seems so serious. So perhaps that’s another problem here. It’s not just that summer is miserable, but that it mocks me, a little bit, by teasing at the thing I most want: something that never ends.
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