Have you ever felt so indelibly meh? If you were a color, it would be the lamest shade of khaki. Even worse when a part of you would like to be Gucci, but let’s face it, you’re an LL Bean knock off. Or you’re a movie with no plot. Like, yeah I’m technically here, but don’t expect any effort or coherence.
I am a career procrastinator. I am not proud of this, and do realize the double meaning, as I have also been procrastinating on a career itself. But that’s another blog post! I love tools such as Evernote and Outlook reminders, but I am quite guilty of rescheduling them, often multiple times. Sometimes I feel guilty when I see that “two weeks overdue” note. But, there’s always tomorrow! No, that’s just a terrible Gloria Estefan song, and tomorrow is no guarantee, technically. Oh, it’s also a Barbara Stanwyck…
For your listening pleasure, this is “Infinite Summer,” by NCZA Lines on the album, Infinite Summer.
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invinciblesummer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”
Summer is slowly, gracefully making an exit. The days are getting shorter and a little cooler. The light has changed too. You can tell the sun is farther away, but I always thought it was on par with a Luminist painting in August through September, so at least that’s lovely. The back to school frenzy is abruptly pushing at summer’s languid edges. I know that soon this season will be like the proverbial fistful of sand, then even less than that- just tiny grains left behind in your bag and shoes from a beach vacation that seems like a distant dream. I feel doleful, but I will always hold summer in my heart, and I’d like to think it’s part of my elemental makeup.
My birthday is June 12th. Of course I am biased, but it’s a fabulous time to have a birthday. If I were born 100 plus years ago, my parents wouldn’t have to worry about warmth and abundance of food for the family. All pragmatism aside, when I was in the school, my birthday marked the final days of school, yet I was still able to hand out party invitations to classmates. Also, I love being a Gemini. I really do feel that varied vibrancy the sign is said to impart, and my time to shine is late spring through summer. As an adult, birthdays become more of a liability with each passing year, and yet, I always feel younger and fresher in mid June, as does the earth. It’s easy to move with a blithe spirit. I just love how everything is really buzzing with life, the gorgeous flowers like roses and irises are coming out, and the days are so long. Doesn’t everyone?
Shockingly, no. There are a lot of people who like fall better, apparently, at least according to their Facebook posts. I used to think that I was one of those people years ago. I loved October with a passion, yet had a near mental breakdown every time it came around. I was a melancholy soul years ago, living out of harmony with my true nature. I avoided the sun and laughter as if they were the plague. Obviously, I was depressed, and thought it was just my personality. After reading some of my journals through the years, I realized that I had the same yearly pattern, and was much sadder in the fall and winter. I wasn’t crazy, I probably have seasonal affective disorder. But I looked so cool in my layers of dark clothing.
Which brings me to the importance of what I’ve dubbed “transeasonal fashion.” I would say that September and March (and sometimes April) are the hardest seasons to dress for since the weather is in such flux. I rarely live by fashion rules, but I do have a few. White after labor day is no big deal, but, on the flipside, please don’t break out the boots and sweaters until at least late September. What’s the rush? It’s winter in NEPA forever, and you’ll have plenty of time to parade around in that stuff. Also, keep your velvet underground between mid-March and late September, or else something beautiful and refined becomes tacky. Who am I fooling, most people don’t wear velvet. I like to approach my transeasonal dressing with hints of both seasons in way that looks like they can get along. For instance, a romper with bell sleeves worn with tights and cool boots in late September. Or maybe a long sleeve printed shirt with a more summery flowing skirt in earlier September.The sartorial challenges keep me distracted from pining for summer.
Mentally, I have built my year around summer. I do believe that that nature lives for summer, for it is then that she shows off her finest work. She goes all out and is accessorized to the max, and it just works.Yet, I know that all amazing times must end, so I judge every other season by its proximity to summer. Of course, spring is the dear though meeker sister, stepping aside for the true debutante. Fall is the trickster vixen who seduces everyone into thinking it’s okay that summer has ended, there’s a new kind of beauty in town! Until we are faced with the bleak reality of November, and afterward the nasty and unspeakable harridan that is winter. Winter’s only saving grace is that eventually it ends and gives way to spring. So, maybe fall is the real villain here? At any rate, during the most bitter moments of winter, I close my eyes and conjure up my most ambrosial summer days because I know that they are truly a part of me and will return. On the first day of winter, I begin counting the days until spring and summer the way some people count the days until Christmas starting in November. Don’t get me started on Christmas, the least wonderful time of the year (another blog post, perhaps).
If I could hold summer in a bottle, I would. But seasons are free, and transient. I guess that is part of their beauty. I vow to take a walk every nice day, and absorbed every molecule of summer that I can into my being. My summer to do list is never finished, but I collect a collage of beautiful memories nonetheless. We have until September 21st, after all. Don’t let the fall lovers fool you, with premature pumpkin spice coffees in their hands, and pumpkins on their porches. Summer doesn’t give a damn, darling, she’s still traipsing about for a bit, and will certainly leave an impression.
“Sometimes the new you is the self that you were always meant to be.”
This won’t be that amazing boho blog, where the heroine blogger can travel anywhere she wants, because she somehow makes mad bank off her blog. For shehas reached “The Pinnacle,” both figurative and literal—she stands on top of an obscure lavender canyon in the Southwest with her gorgeous kimono top (only $200!) draped perfectly over outstretched arms. She does not need the generous coverage of a kimono top, because she is so slim and ultra photogenic. The sun loves her, and so do her 1,000 plus followers. Did I mention that she has such “pinnacle” moments all the time, and they are all meticulously catalogued?
I am not that girl, and I have chosen not to be a second rate version of her. I wanted to be her and those alike, for years. Now, all of that has changed. I realized that when you focus upon achieving some ultimate version of yourself, your true potential will wither in the face of an illusion: That is a tragic and all too common tale. I believe that the journey of life for most consists of two great questions: “Who am I? and “Why am I here?” By nature, the answers shouldn’t be so clear cut. I now agree with Rilke that we should “Live the questions now.” But in an era of great diversions, you can find yourself searching for answers in some unworthy places, especially if you are a seeker type.
My late night scroll through Instagram is a good example. Social media made me do it- feel sad and envious. Not entirely, but it’s an easy path to find yourself winding down.
First, on my Instagram journey, I saw a picture of my favorite cat in the whole world, whom I may never see again in person. Her pet parent had recently decided to end our friendship of many years. A mutual acquaintance just captured the most lovely picture of the languid feline, and has likely taken my place as a cat sitter. I miss this kitty even more now. My former friend, not nearly as much. It’s hard to miss someone who admitted they “judge the [expletive] out of you.” If cats judge you, you can bet it’s for good reason.
Next, I stumbled upon a picture of an estranged friend. She fills my feed with endless pictures of herself in vintage stores, scoring the most impressive goods. I both wish I had the time and money for that level of vintage hunting, yet find her obsession a bit disconcerting. We reconnected briefly in this past winter after seeing each other out for the first time in years. We messaged online for a bit, and eventually I asked her if she would like to meet at the Salvation Army on a Wednesday (50% off for Family Day!). She never responded. A few days later, she posted a picture of herself there with another friend. Obviously, I didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason.
Finally, there appeared a smiling couple of the Scrantosphere (the “scene”) glitterati ilk on the beach. Their skin is pale and perfect (I hope they wore lots of sunscreen!). I do not have any complaints in the romance department. I married my soulmate (yes, they exist!) in May and couldn’t be happier. But, everyone envies beach frolickers, especially of the hip variety. So hip, they always manage to get at least 50 likes on their posts.
One person’s apparent virtual glee can become another’s private pathos. I am happy to report that I circumvented the madness, and stopped fifteen minutes into my Instagram scroll (I used to waste hours on social media ruminations, sadly). There were online Scrabble games to be played and pages of Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? to be read (excellent memoir, by the way). Also, I had at least five things to be thankful for, and needed to jot them down in my gratitude journal. This is a fun and easy practice that has been shown to increase positive thinking in a practical way. I can attest to its benefits.
I know that FOMO (acronym for fear of missing out) is totally normal and affects even the most introverted and enlightened of souls. We are social and curious creatures by nature. There was a period only a few years ago when FOMO ruled my life as if it were a clinical condition. It didn’t help that I fed it amply with pictures on Facebook of parties I wasn’t invited to, cool clothes I didn’t have, destinations I didn’t travel to. Digital acquaintances were viewed with a vague hostility, because I thought for sure that they not only had some advantage over me, but also had rejected somehow since I wasn’t included in their excitement. The truth was, I had no idea how their lives really were. When I saw people in person, I was hardly open or friendly because of all of the assumptions I had built up, and the petty grievances I carried.
There comes a time when you realize that the grievances that you carry are about as flattering and useful as the kind of clothes you need to donate to the aforementioned Sal Val. They are past season and no longer fit , so why are you still wearing them? Who is really under there? I have been asking myself that quite earnestly in my thirties, and become less afraid of the answers with each passing year.
The truth is, there was nothing to miss out on in the first place. My friend of so many years outright rejected me. People reject us all the time, but we can remain resilient, and become even more of who we are meant to be after honest reflection. My invite was never accepted, and many were not extended to me. But there is no need to wait for one when you can take yourself wherever you would like, or join those who truly care about you. Another couple’s beach vacation has nothing to do with my life. So, it’s best to focus most of my attention on mine and make it as awesome as possible. I hope you will do the same.
P.S. I did take myself to the Sal Val and stumbled upon a super sweet floral kimono top. With the Wednesday discount, it was only $2.00. I wore it on my honeymoon in Hawaii. I don’t have an Instagram pic, because I want you to use use your imagination and I choose not to foster more FOMO. 😉