It’s the twenty-second minute of this month. Already the weather is cool and the leaves are rustling. On the Summer Solstice I left the country for a month, thinking about how when I got back on July 21, it would be midsummer and this would make me sad. I try not to be sad at the end of the summer, since nothing really changes for me but the weather, but I can’t help it. There is something sacred about the summer to me, even if it long since ceased to be a respite from the hell that was high school. Maybe it’s my anxiety about the coldness of winter, the way it drags on six weeks too long and makes everyone crazy, the way gritty snow and salt destroy boots and every step is icy and treacherous and the world is puddly and the trees are barren and the light, though sometimes beautiful, is weak and everything seems hopeless and like it will never be alive again. And then when it is alive, when everything is hot and sweat cooks with bacteria like primordial soup and we are naked and exposed to the world and life itself is so abundant that it grows too ripe and almost rots, somehow that, too, seems also to imply its opposite, the lonliness of winter tethered hundreds of days away, tugging.

What is at once comoforting and upsetting about the seasons is that they keep happening. September comes and reminds us of other Septembers, or it doesn’t remind of us other Septembers. Birthdays come and seasons come and at some point you realize that your life, while it is constantly changing, has a pattern, that you are a person who was born in September and for the rest of your life you will count from that season, that it’s where you began and where you begin again. Days and dates become significant, the year is filled with anniversaries both marked and unspoken. An ex-boyfriend’s birthday, the day you came down with mono, the day of the blackout but you didn’t know because you were camped on a beach in California. Life itself has a pattern, and like all patterns it is both beautiful and disturbing, like one of those cryptic photographs you stare at and stare at until someone tells you it’s the highways of Western Oklahoma photographed from space. Or the mathematical formula for the machinery of the Enola Gay, and you think “How clever.” How clever that someone has figured out a way to make this mundane or sinister thing seem beautiful, made us able see it by making unrecognizeable.

The people you’ve met are familiar, the people you haven’t met are familiar. Tonight, but last month, when it was still summer, I went to a reading in Madison Square Park. It was threatening to storm and I sat in my white plastic folding chair among the gentry, enjoying the feeling of thinking I recognized the friend who was going to read, and then realizing, when he turned around, that it was someone else. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and his hair had gotten longer, and so when bare neck after bare neck swivelled and turned into strangers, I was confused. When he finally stood up and turned it around it was another sort of magic trick; his face had appeared on some long-haired boy’s head. Among the recognizeable audience members, the girls with their air of aloof hopelessness and not too much jewelry and beautiful spectacles and serious necks, the boys with their standoffish t-shirts and youthful shoes and halos of ego, something was new.

Leave A Comment