Melancholy and the Infinite Summer

When Lana del Ray’s song “Summertime Sadness” came out, I thought, ‘Finally a song about summer I can relate to!’  Although other than the title and echoing tune, I can’t relate to much else about the song.  Still.  The title speaks volumes to my experience in the summer.

While most people pine for summer all year long, I feel ambivalent as it approaches.  Through the year 2005, I loved summer.  I still remember all the parts of it I once held so dear – not having to go to school was a big plus.  And while my school days are over, I still enjoy other parts I once did; BBQs, the beach and not having to put on 3 layers just to walk out the door.  But many years ago, I had a pretty bad spring that morphed into a terrible summer.  So, summer has never been the same for me.  It just kinda falls flat for me now.  And undoubtedly it’s partially because it dredges up my past.  But I don’t think it’s just that.

It’s hard to explain.  There’s just something about summer that feels very hollow to me.  Working in the city, I notice this strange dichotomy of everything being in full bloom and full tilt but also slower and emptier than usual.  People are on vacation and the city streets are less busy.  Meetings and events happen less frequently or not at all.  And I look at the beautiful flowers and feel the hot sun and then I just want everyone to come back.  I want life to carry on as normally and as completely as the rest of the year.

In the fall, the streets are full.  People are around and available.  The air is vibrant and people have a spring (pun intended) in their steps.  There’s a sense of purpose all around.  That’s what it is.  I sense a lack of purpose in the summer.  Like you’re supposed to put life on hold and when everyone does that, life and the world get put on hold.  Or at least it feels that way.  And it feels lonely.  I can watch the dust from the city’s parks’ trails settle in the hot summer sun and I feel like everything has come to a halt, even though everything is also abuzz.  And I don’t know where to stand or how to feel.  But in the fall, the dust can’t settle.  It’s just kicked up over and over, as life sets into a constant motion.

I even like winter – winter in the northeast of the US, nonetheless.  I was watching a movie recently and the main character was walking on a winter street and you could hear the crunching of iced-over snow under her feet.  And I loved it.  It soothed me as I thought of winter.  Like fall, everyone’s in a rush in winter.  Although it’s usually because it’s too freakin’ cold to not walk briskly (word play intended).  I know when most people think of winter, they think of ice and darkness.  But for me, it’s a time to be cozy and settle in with close friends and family.  And everyone’s around and everyone is moving.  And that makes me happy.

The other thing about the summer is that it’s not just hot, it’s really hot and humid, which makes me feel weighed down.  I don’t feel full of energy, despite the fact that the slogan of summer in the Northeast is, “Go on, get out there – we don’t get a lot of days like this.”  And I think, ‘But I’m tired and I want to be left alone.’  In the fall and winter, the air is crisp and light.  I feel alive – even when it’s cold.  In the summer I feel lethargic and it doesn’t help that everyone else seems so happy that time of year.  I don’t mean to say you shouldn’t enjoy summer just because I don’t.  That’s great if you do and I wish I could share your sentiment.  All I mean to say is that it feels isolating to feel like you’re the only one who’s sad and lonely.

Summer has just lost that loving feeling for me.  And while I wish I could get it back, I also am grateful for my fine appreciation of fall – and especially of winter.

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