"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Perfect Summer

I’ve always idealized summer. It exists in my mind as a pocket of time untouched by the laws of every-day life: there are no obligations, and endless possibilities. Instead of being paralyzed by boredom, in my summer, you embrace freedom, harness it. You perfect the act of doing nothing. And of course, the absence of school means that your creativity thrives, and somehow you get more done than you thought possible. I’m aware that this is a paradox, but it is an image I cling to, and it’s been grounded so deeply into my childhood that I can’t seem to separate myself from it. And honestly, I don’t want to. Because when I think about summer, I don’t just think about my perfect summer. There is magic in real summers, too. I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve seen it in the in the stretching of the days, the luxuriously long sunsets, where that impossible green foliage that blankets every tree is momentarily dipped in gold. Later it subsides to a deep blue, and the air is a color like something out of a Monet painting.  I find it in the tiny sandstorm created by the cream as I pour it into a tall glass of iced coffee. It is the morning walks I take with mother and my dog, down a curbless street, filled with birdsong. Occasionally, there are swimming pools. Sometimes, there are long drives in cars under an endless sky. There is rain, too. The kind of summer thunderstorm I haven’t experienced in years. It is a wild rain, punctuated by rumbles that shake the windows of our house, and my mother stands on the front porch, transfixed. 

This is the summer I grew up with. Over the years, it’s changed slightly. It’s been invaded by summer reading books for school, not all of which were bad, and summer assignments which always were. When I learned to drive there was always a nagging sense that I had to go somewhere. Why stay at home when you have a whole city to explore? Still, I often guiltily chose to sit in the backyard and read a book instead. Maybe I idealize summer too much, but when I hear people say that summer is “boring,” I feel indignant. You say the first few weeks weeks are fun. There’s the novelty of it, I guess. But after that, as June yawns into July it’s just another summer, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. I have no patience for this attitude. If you are scared of boredom, your summer will be over before it began. It’s how you use boredom, how you acknowledge it but don’t let it defeat you. Summers are a gift. They are something to be cherished, held in your hands like the blueberries you picked by the bucket-full. Summers are a time capsule to a time when you didn’t need the internet to distract you, when the outdoors was a place you still frequented. And yes, I know it’s hot. I live in a place where humidity makes you feel like you are swimming rather than walking, and mosquitoes gather in prehistoric swarms. In the afternoon the heat presses against windows, and the world is a bug trapped in amber.  

If there is a message here, it is this: Find your perfect summer. Take time to marvel at a rainbow in the arc of a sprinkler, and spend an afternoon in shade that is just cool enough to be bearable. Jump into lakes. Swing from tire swings. If anything, summer reminds us that one moment can feel like an eternity. Inhabit that eternity. Make a home there, and the summer is yours.