No Really, it’s too damn hot

There is hot like August and there is hot like September. Hot like August is both rough and smooth, weighed down and suffocating. Hot like September is surprising and blinding, a coup on the system; it is cold air, tantalizing in the morning, only to be replaced by hot air in the afternoon.

Hot like August is an excuse. It is a reason to say no. It is sweat dripping on your arms, your legs, down your back as you press up against strangers on the train, wishing you could be in a dark room with nothing touching you. It is hair up and eyes closed against the sun.

Hot like September is everything all at once. It is shivers in the shade and moans in the sunlight. It’s red faces that are just pink enough. It’s one new freckle in the morning. It’s rolling up the sleeves of your sweater and the cuffs of your jeans and bare feet in the dewy grass as the sun sinks across the river and all you can think of are blankets and quiet.

Hot like August is hard. It is upside down. It is tiresome and sometimes lonely. It is misery in its selfishness, in the way it takes hold of every sense, in its disregard. One cannot breathe in August. Air does not flow, we just simply wade through it. It’s the desire to strip and the willingness to not care who sees. Hot like August is a kind of freedom.

Hot like September is holding hands. It’s casual and fleeting. It wanders from neighborhood to neighborhood, from sidewalk to sidewalk. It shows its ugly face when it feels like it and retreats into the shadows at it pleases. It walks around at night sometimes, reminding us in the odd hours that it still has it’s hold on us, that it can still call on us whenever it wants. Hot like September is power and prose.

August shakes hands with September every year. They pull and push at each other, haggling for time and space and air. They find it hard to share. There is only much time and so much to do. Some years each month demands more time and the ability to seep into areas they should never be. And some years they are allowed to do it, because exhaustion does not allow arguments to be well made. Sometimes it is fine to give in, to give up.

Hot like August is hard but simple. It is lying on the grass with the clouds above, in billowing poofs, avoiding the sun so that they may be clouds a little while longer. Hot like September is complicated and raw and deep. It is hot pavement that morphs into concrete that morphs into earth, each cooler than the next.

I am hot like August. I am hot like September.

Advertisements

It’s Too Damn Hot

IMG_1528Somehow it feels like you’ll never be cool again. Every summer this happens, and every winter too, where time feels like it stops and nothing will ever change and you’ll die like this, weighed down by sun and sweat or your heavy coat.

But that perspective, that kind of remembering, requires too much effort at the end of the summer in that weird dead space between your last vacation and that first cool breath of Fall. Or at least Labor Day weekend. In this age of disappearing islands, those are rarely the same thing. Still, summer feels like it should be over. I’ve done all the laundry left from family camp, washed the campfire smoke from my clothes. There’s still sand in my tote bags, but it’s possible there always will be. It might be from four or six or eight years ago. It might be from trips to the Outer Banks when I was little, date of tote bag purchase be damned. But I think I’ve gotten all the sand out of my shoes, finally.

And yet, the sun still pins you down, burns your skin. It’s so hard to think, so hard to change your mind. It’s Olympic season and Election season and it’s not just heat – the air is thick with anxiety too. Something has to give and there’s nothing left to give and so everyone is just going through the motions, waiting some kind of relief.

But there’s something kind of marvelous about the heat too, when it’s inescapable and overwhelming. It reduces everything to the essentials. I kind of love it, even when it’s miserable, even when it feels like you can’t breathe for all the heat and stillness and heavy air. It’s like the exhaustion I used to seek out in high school, a kind of sharpness that keeps you from wasting your energy.

New York has cooled off a little. We’re having a break from the oppressive heat and the storms that roll in every night and do nothing but flash at you, angry and impotent and quiet. It’s a little easier to breathe outside now. Still, there’s a sense of relief on the horizon, a frenetic anticipation for cooler weather and easier rain.

Every summer I run up against this wall. Everyone wants to give you so much more time – summer schedules that let you out early on Fridays, outings and events that get you out of the office. It seems like a season for adventure and yet I never really want to move. I never seem to get as much done as I think I’m going to. It always feels like the heat, but maybe I just haven’t found my stride yet, the eager anticipation of success that will get me out of bed earlier. Or perhaps into bed earlier. That more often seems to be the problem.

But the things I think in the heat of the summer seem to weigh more. The stories when I get around to telling them, feel a little more fraught, a little heavier, like the air they were raised in. It’s the other side of summer, the burning side, the wild side. It seems so out of reach, and then when you’re not looking, it over takes you.

Summer isn’t over yet. I think there’s still a little left to burn.

Your Time Will Come

IMG_8096-1

There’s a pretty fantastic movie called Brooklyn about a 1950s Irish immigrant to, you guessed it, Brooklyn. The main character Eilis, lives in a boarding house and shares a bathroom with the other four women who live with her. One night, she leaves the bathroom to let her divorcee roommate in, but not before asking her if she would ever get married again.

“Of course,” her roommate said. “I want to stand waiting for my own bathroom while some cankerous old fool sits on the toilet reading a newspaper with white hair in his ears, while I dream of living here with you.”

The whole movie is lovely (I highly recommend it) but it’s also a wonderful lesson in the idea of greener pastures. Eilis struggles with her past and her present, trying to reconcile her new home with the one she left behind. It’s hard, trying to figure out what life one wants to lead, especially when you are trying to choose between the home you’ve grown up in and the home you’ve made for yourself.

But what’s even harder is deciding between one concrete option and your fantasies of another. We can imagine a million different lives for ourselves, ones where we are rich and famous, ones where we discover ourselves to be brilliantly talented, or ones where we disappear completely, where we are alone, where we are happy. Many of these fantasy futures are unattainable. They are just a simple way to pass the time. But it’s hard to let them go, especially when the life you have is not the life you want.

NYC-Night

But really, what does the life you dream of really look like? I think most of our dreams change and are in constant flux. The ever-shifting fantasy jobs we conjure up morph into newer and shinier positions along with newer and shinier pay rates. We fall in love with new ideas and new cities and new people. How can the monotony of the day to day keep up with such adventure.

The short answer is that it can’t. There’s a certain beauty to the everyday tasks that keep each one of us afloat, but I don’t think they are anything to write home about. It’s why writing this blog is so hard sometimes; I find myself living the same day, day after day, while I dream of the future that I desperately want. And when your thoughts are big and wonderful, you want your actual life to reflect that. We want that first hand experience, we want to feel as happy as we think we can be.

But if i’ve learned everything over the past year, it’s that being present in my life is the only way to experience it. Because even if I did get everything that I could ever dream of wanting, there will always be something else, something better than what I can dream. That’s how life works. As Eilis says at the end of Brroklyn, “…you’ll realize, that this is where your life is.”

This blog post doesn’t really have a point except to say that today it was hard to be a 24-year-old who is limited by time, space, and money. I know someday I will get where I want to be, and for now, that will have to be enough.

A Case of the Millenials

Being a grown up is hard, y’all.

Just before we were about to graduate college, a friend and I had a really silly conversation. “Can you imagine how much free time we’ll have without homework?? So much time – how have grown ups not cured cancer yet?”

We were being facetious, of course, but not nearly as facetious as we should have been. I think, in part, we honestly believed that. Growing up, you have two jobs. You’re in school all day, and then you come home and you do homework. You have sports practices and dance classes and after school clubs. And it’s all in the name of…something. Your education. Learning teamwork and cooperation and fitness. College applications. Because your parents said so.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 3.27.09 PMWhen we were still in college, still bathed in the warm embrace of our parents’ bank accounts, all we could see were endless days of choices ahead – time to watch TV, time to cook and read and write, time to go out for drinks with friends. Time, time, time, time. So much of it when all you lose is 8 hours at work.

Of course, we didn’t really take into account all of the things our parents did so that we could go to practice and school and do our homework, things like laundry and cleaning and answering the phone. Grocery shopping – did you know that you have to feed yourself approximately three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year?? That’s over a thousand meals a year. I like to cook a lot, and even I think that’s insane. No wonder we spend all our money on lunch out. And when we eat lunch out we just go to Pret over and over and over again. Decisions are hard.

I got off work early today. During the summer, our office lets us work from nine to six Monday through Thursday so that we can get out at noon on Friday. A couple of times I’ve gone to cute restaurants for delicious wine tastings and charcuterie, or read in a park. But a lot of the time, today for example, I just went home. I’m sore from a FitBallet class, and I’m tired, and I hadn’t written this post yet, so I’m laying in bed watching Anthony Bourdain, typing, and wishing my roommate would leave so I can turn down the air conditioner. It feels a lot more mundane than I really ever expected to be.

Being a grown up is hard, I think, because you have to fight a lot harder than you expected to and a lot longer than you expected to for the spectactular moments, the marvelous ones that make you sit up and take notice. Every Friday can’t be one of the marvelous ones. Sometimes you lay in bed, work on your budget, pay your credit card bill, and save your energy for the next one. Sometimes you still have to figure out what to eat for dinner.

This has been a whole lot of whining to get to the heart of the issue, which is that I haven’t had a lot to write about lately. I had a lot more to say when I was a grad school wino and a drain on my nation’s resources. I haven’t figured out how to be a person and a contributing member of society. I have to get back in the habit of asking questions, and letting things bother me.

Also I gotta say this: thanks mom and dad, for doing all the grown up stuff for yourselves and for me for a solid 26 years before abandoning me to the down under. I miss you!

I’ll be better next week, guys. I swear.

 

 

 

A kind of Nostalgia

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. It’s easy to know and understand the mistakes we’ve made after we’ve made them and, much like the  effects of the Mirror of Erised, ruminating on how great or simple life used to be is a short journey to madness.

I feel as though nostalgia has, in some ways, taken our collective culture hostage. We can see this most clearly in a certain Republican presidential nominee. Without nostalgia, a slogan like “Make America Great Again,” could never work. Nor could the recasting/gender-bending of a cult 80s movie cause so much despair among nerd boys who still live in their mother’s basements. We like our things, our shows, sometimes our whole existence to stay the same, to stay comfortable.

I feel like this discussion especially rings true given we’ve just witnessed the publication of a new Harry Potter book. Granted it’s not really a book, but the story is continuing in a real, substantive way and that brings back a lot of different emotions for a lot of people.

I will admit I haven’t read Cursed Child yet. It’s currently sitting in front of me as I write this blog post. This weekend I spent much of my time reading everyone’s reactions to the book and seeing social media posts about release parties. As I scrolled, everything about growing up with this series came flooding back; the exhilaration of a new book released, the anticipation of waiting and wondering what was going to happen next. I felt excited for something in way that I haven’t experienced in a long time. And this is a powerful feeling.

There are a lot of reasons why Harry Potter was so successful, and you will find better papers about that on the internet. But I personally think that everything surrounding the series was just very pure. The books, and to some extent the movies, were all well received and there were no major scandals around anyone involved with the projects. Really, it’s hard to put a finger on any bad feelings one may have about the boy who lived. This is important to note because if those good feelings we have are ever jeopardized, it can change everything we think about Harry Potter.

And because of this nostalgia, in a sense, becomes a drug. We want to feel those good feelings over and over again. We want to feel new and inspired. We want every time to be like the first. And just like a drug in order to keep the high going, we need more, more, more. We need things to be what they were before and god help anyone who dares to imagine the very thing you love in a different way. If only things were the way they used to be, everything would be okay. If only, if only, if only…

Sadly or fortunately, however you look at it, nothing will ever be what it was before. It is the inevitable ebb and flow of time and space. I think nostalgia can be important and good; it reminds us who we are and what we stand for. And history allows us to look into our past to inform our future. But if we keep looking back then we will never move forward.

So to all the Cursed Child haters out there – remember it’s 19 years later and know that the Harry that exists in your heart will always be there to welcome you home.