Summer Girl

There is something to be said about the sweetness of summer. A feeling so indescribable can be felt during that time of uninterrupted sunshine, where the sky is always blue and the air tries to be still. Summer was not always my favorite season, as a child I preferred the fall and winter months for the longest time. However, the solemnness of my adolescent years has become a thing of the past as I have become more hopeful; I still experience moments where nothing seems to be going right and my heart is weighed down by the heaviness of life, but long gone are the days where I suspect that my real life is happening elsewhere in a place where it always feels like summer. This season brings a special sort of relief that can be felt especially after the bitter harshness of winter’s treatment, as beautiful memories are made during these three months of bliss.

I can recall various trips taken throughout my life during those heat intensive periods. Escaping from the regular routines of one’s life becomes the most important objective once June rolls around, as individuals begin to plan getaways that allow them a respite from their everyday responsibilities. However, these intermissions do not last long, as one begins to realize that the metaphor “time flies,” rings true once you grow older. Summer ends abruptly and pretty soon you start questioning where the time went as you look up the date on a calendar, making sure that you don’t miss important upcoming engagements. The autumn/winter months return and force one back into a monotonous cycle of routines while the latter half of the year continues to progress. Life begins to feel burdensome again, but this is when I turn into my mind for memories that offer a warm sense of solace whenever I need hope. This is where I’ve realized that summer is not just a season, it is a feeling.

Time is an interesting concept for we are able to recount the memories that defined us, but we do not acknowledge the fact that a certain moment will hold significance until years later. It stays within us and returns distinctly only when we make an effort to remember, and one has to completely focus if they wish to go back to a person, a place, a feeling. However, there exists a special category of individuals that do not need to reminisce, for they are satisfied with the present trajectories of their lives. Instead of looking at the past in order to cope with current-day, they accept the fact that life is constantly changing and endure the losses that come their way, whether it’s people, connections, or experiences. Some are born with this inherent quality that helps them thrive regardless of the difficulties they face, but there are others like myself who lack this trait and succumb to despondency at the end of each phenomena. We try to change in hopes of becoming more like them, to have their stoicism replace our vehemence so as to feel more refined but I realize that it is too late for me, for I will never be able to transform my tender heart into something less passionate.

Nonetheless there is a time for everything, and summer is the season where sensitive personality types thrive as the sultry weather gives us a chance to feel alive again wholeheartedly. We begin to reflect on the days where it felt as though life was still worth living, while we sunbathe and let the therapeutic glowing rays gently kiss the surface of our skin in those moments of solitude. We wake up with a sense of innocence as anticipation can be felt every morning when we consider the endless possibilities that summer offers us. We recover from the the losses incurred before the start of the season and begin to heal with the experience of a new connection, a sudden adventure, a new feeling.

We remember the summers inside our childhood homes, the days full of cousins and siblings playing in the backyard trying to build a clubhouse amongst the brown dirt. The hot afternoons where you’d eat the stems off phosphorescent yellow flowers that’d leave you wincing from the sourness of their taste. The mornings where the sun would shine through the kitchen window as the smell of dishwasher soap filled the air, and it felt like the world would always glimmer for you. The scars left behind from falling endlessly as one does when they’re young, because running around made you feel so free despite the pain of bloodied joints. Stairs seemed extremely daunting then, and I was always so afraid to ascend the wooden steps in the backyard that dared scuff my already scarred knees. Over the years I outgrew my tomboyness for womanhood but little mementos are etched onto my body, and they appear when I wear something that exposes my legs in the summer, reminding me of simpler times that were full of innocence.

The heart shaped scar on my right knee, the vertical mark on my left shin, and the imprint of scratched mosquito bites on the right ankle which occurred during a trip to Mexico as a pre-teen. I convinced myself to believe that tanning on Malibu beaches would permanently help even out the discoloration years later, and I spent many days catching the sun alongside the coast one summer. Evenings full of sand and ocean blue hues, sticky bodies from the spray on sunscreen, strawberries and mangoes prepared and packed in tupperware to enjoy at the beach. The Southern California heat was no match for the Pacific Ocean breeze that would break against tanned skin, and one remembers driving back home on Highway 1 while the sky turned twilight.

Summer nights full of adventures that make you question whether they actually happened the morning after. Running through sand as you’re being chased on the beach and spinning in the blackness while laughter fills the abyss. Driving through Mulholland Drive, Hollywood Strip, and Sunset Boulevard when you can’t sleep in the early hours of the morning, admiring the fact that you made a dream come true. Feeling the humid New York air on the way back to your hotel after a night out of wining and dining; walking in a drunken haze through San Francisco streets past midnight, as you dance and twirl around in public without a care in the world. Jumping on the bed with delirious joy and looking out the window of your apartment while the city of Los Angeles sleeps, because there is no one around to scold you for doing what your heart desires.

The summer I grew a slight obsession with Sausalito and dragged my childhood best friend to visit the city with me. We spent my twenty-fourth birthday at a restaurant that overlooked the San Francisco Bay, and walked around like tourists afterwards during sunset. We recounted the summer where we met later that night, when we were five-year-old’s starting the first day of kindergarten, “Me and you locked eyes… and after that we were just friends. Forever.” I kissed her hand weeks afterwards when she dropped off an arrangement of flowers with a card during one of my depressive states, where inside she wrote: Everything will work itself out. What’s meant to be will be.

There are firsts that one experiences during this season. The first time in a long time that you have fallen in love and go on a weekend getaway with a temporary lover, making empty promises that seem so believable in the moment. The first road trip heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway with a couple of girlfriends as you stop by Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and other detour worthy locations that remind you of the beauty in living. The first encounter with someone you never knew would impact your life for the better, spending your twenty-third birthday with them on a beach at night in Monterey, running along the ocean tide in the darkness as the air is still and you feel eternal.

It is a late Sunday afternoon as you carry your nine-month-old niece around, when she suddenly leans her head against your chest for the first time. You wish you could prolong the moment as it feels like your heart is going to explode from such a tender exchange, and you have to hold back your elation to avoid startling her. I cried when I left her side that day because I realized just how quickly life changes in an instant; she will never be this young again and I won’t always be near to watch her grow up, but I wished with my entire heart for her childhood to be filled with summers full of never ending happiness. Deep down I know she will have this, as she is being raised in a house full of warmth with a backyard big enough for her to run around in, and there is a growing garden full of fruits that she will get to enjoy once she is older.

September marks the beginning of summer’s ending and it is the month I will forever correlate with change, for it reminds me of the time I moved away from home when I turned twenty-one. It came as quickly as it went for October has suddenly appeared and the sky has begun to look like a painting reminiscent of Monet’s impressionist artworks. The sun’s brightness is covered behind gray clouds in such a sporadic manner, but the cool air reminds one of the fact that autumn has arrived despite summer’s departure. Nevertheless there are days in which a bright orb is ever so present, and I run away to the beaches alongside California’s coastline to bask in its alleviating light.

It is here where my heart and mind begin to connect as I go through the index of memories I have filed away to revisit slowly, one by one, in order to fully experience each moment’s depth. I want to make sure every sense is activated because I need to feel as though I’m back there, in the place I wish to be; so I close my eyes to focus all my attention on the timeframe of my life I am trying to revisit, and I am different versions of myself in a number of locations with certain people as the sentiments begin to tie it all together. In each memory is summer where I am falling in love with the world again, and I am reminded of the fact that life is worth living. It has taken my entire lifespan to understand that my sentimentality is not a weakness, but a virtue that helps me remain soft when the world tries to harden me. I will forever remain sincere because of this.

“It all comes back,” as Joan Didion once wrote, and the sentiment is ever so prevalent in day-to-day moments that seem unsubstantial. It is only when the sun shines through the windows of a room to illuminate the atmosphere in such a diaphanous way, that the special feeling you’d experience as a child returns through the hopeful swelling of your heart. Perhaps it’s best then, to practice nostalgia and relive the warm summer memories every once in a while, because one day you’ll look up the date on a calendar and think “Where did the time go?,” as you find yourself so far removed from all the places, people, and things that helped create those treasured moments within the bright three month season.

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