Does The Summer Have To End?
My brain houses at least a few childhood memories where my pubescent-melancholy got the best of me. I thought I had the biggest problems in the entire universe as a 12-year-old and had to listen to Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” to numb the pain — because, I kind of had to. Not really internalizing the meaning of the lyrics, I sat there by myself and sympathized with the intro: “Summer has come and passed. The innocence can never last…” It didn’t matter what season it actually was; the song just played in the background until I grew out of it and decided “Holiday” was my favorite song in the album.
More than 10 years later, I find myself lying in my bed with a stomach full of noodles. I was already full after the appetizer bun, because as it turns out, my stomach is not as big as I thought it was. The days I had a burrito, and three tacos and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s are over. I am getting old, and in the meantime, my stomach is shrinking. I have a few streaks of white hair as well, but I prefer not to talk about that. It’s okay; I hide them very carefully.
“Why did I eat so much?” I asked myself. I had been reporting the entire day; people told me about their lives, revealed their entire genealogy, complained about gentrification, racism, sexism — and many other “ism”s. I had a chance to meet a lot of people and even have a few interesting conversations that really had nothing to do with my reporting. A very nice guy told me he saw a lot more wisdom in young kids than adults once they were given the opportunity to speak. To be honest, I do agree. Now, as a 24-year-old, I know what the “innocence can never last” part means in the song. It really does come to an end. “What happened? When did we grow up?” I asked him. He said he didn’t know; but he knew for sure that something had happened.
As I was going back home, I got lost in the streets of downtown Brooklyn. I saw a few people waiting outside of a hotel for some WWE wrestlers. I thought of joining the crowd, but then decided to head back home. “Manhattan smells bad,” I thought as I explored new streets in a city that was not new to me anymore — although the idea of not being on a smelly street was novel to me. This neighborhood did not smell like pee, kebab, burnt pretzels, sweat or poop. It had a smell of its own and it was a sight on its own. I took it all in, but my peaceful state got interrupted when a couple passed by, and all I could hear was the phrase: “late summer”.
I hate when summer comes to an end, because when it does, it does not come back for at least 8 months. I don’t know why, but for the entire time it is here, we complain about how hot it is or how sticky our bodies feel or how the subway is synonymous with “sauna.” But then, we forget that winter basically never ends; it comes and it never fully leaves. First it gets cold, then it snows, then there is slushy snow everywhere. In the meantime, you wear layers on top of layers, juggling climate changes when you go in and out of buildings. Temperature-management is always off during the winter, and maybe so are my feelings. (It is true that A/Cs may make life unbearable over the summer — especially in offices — but, it is still not as bad as sweating inside and freezing outside like in the winter. My feelings are also just better over the summer; I am a lot nicer.)
Yet, I am not sure if summer has been treating me as well as I have been treating summer. A Cancerian, I have always boarded the “summer” train, but for the past two years, I have spent the rest of my year tending myself after the summer. It always takes a lot away and sometimes even leaves a wreck behind — like it did last summer. I thought I wouldn’t be able to stay in New York and eventually went for an interview to be a salesperson at a furniture shop. I didn’t end up doing the job, but for the rest of the year, I tried to fill the void of that hopelessness and everything it took from me. I spent each day, reminding myself that I was better than whatever the summer told me I was. I am still alive and feel quite on track, so I can say it worked out — but it also took me an entire winter to get ready for the next summer.
Then, the next summer came, and though I was doing better, many close friends decided to leave and go to other places around the world. Some decided to stay close, but away from my heart. “Why does it all have to happen over the summer?” I wondered. I have no answer and I still want to know; is it that I am a better person under the 100F sun, but others are not? Or is it because we are more likely to act on a whim over the summer? Or do we simply not drink enough water?
Life is full of ups and downs, and just like I always imagine New Year’s Eve being the best day ever and it being just ordinarily average, I expect the summer to be the peak of my year. Each time, the hype is there, but maybe it just has to be more in touch with the reality. Maybe, I just have to learn how to stay on the ground even when it’s the summer and it’s relatively easy to “evaporate” into thin air.
“This time,” I promise myself, “I will keep my eyes open for the entirety of September.” When girls like me chug their pumpkin spice lattes, I will sip on the last glasses of rose and face it all. Maybe, I’ll accept that while I can hide my white streak of hair, mother nature can’t hide hers; but she will always make a comeback in less than a year — and that is good enough of a reason to love her. Everybody loves a comeback story anyways.
Manhattan, August 2016