Somehow 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.