"I am just over summer!" my friend Emily said earlier this week. Frankly, she and I were on the page there. It was at the height of one 38-degree day, when our hobbies had transformed from "reading" and "cooking" to "lying on cool tile floors" and "complaining." We also agreed that, for whatever reason, the hot months are also weirdly prone to be a season of bad news. Statistically, the crap should be spread like a thin layer over each calendar page, but it often feels like there's a steaming turd right in the middle of the egg-fryingly hot sidewalk.
Look, I'll just come right out and say it: I do not thrive in the summer months. Not only is it a time of heat, it has been, in my family, a time of shittiness. My sister's cancer diagnosis came in late June, as did my last fuck-me breakup. The emotional ripples come down the wire every damned year. Last year was a lead-up to having a tumour (and bonus ovary!) removed, and the ensuing stress and recovery from that lovely hospital trip. This year has been no different so far, with recent deaths creating new emotional craters.
Even when nobody's actively on the ward, the heat does unpleasant things. Sleep dwindles down to a scant few hours. I dislike the sunshine, because sunscreen gives people a gross body-builder's sheen and going without gives me skin damage and sunstroke-induced nausea. I hate air conditioning, because the drying coolness is a tease, and there isn't really anything pleasant about the chill. While some of my friends like the pool, I have a deeply ingrained fear of displaying my nearly-naked body to strangers. The best outfits I can come up with for beating the heat? Skimpy shorts, tube tops and long, cleavagey dresses. Nothing about those is appropriate for the office.
There are things I like about the summer time, like the usual few weeks of unemployment I get before getting a job - I love my downtime, what can I say? I like being able to walk out the door without getting all bundled up. I like the nighttimes, when people walk in the fragrance of the night blooms, sit on patios and drink beers. I love the lushness of the city, with the blooms of urban nature poking through our matted lawn and the Annex's shade trees providing us all with a bit of relief. I love the long days, even though that usually means less sleep. I love falling in love in the summer, because often, even though there's a backlog of emotions, summer is a great time to realize that you like-like someone.
And this summer hasn't been terrible. There's been a lot - more than average, I would say - of stress, in both the personal and professional spheres, but that's been offset by lots of really splendid moments (is it just me, or is the phrase "splendid moments" so Anne Shirley as to be kind of funny?). I've swam in a pool - a personal triumph regarding those body-image issues - and made tabbouleh, banana muffins and coleslaw. I've eaten lots of burgers and seen some fun movies. A friend-of-a-friend dropped off a trove of smutty books, so I've been reading a lot of sentences that refer to vaginas as flowers. I've seen some out of town friends.
In my youth, summer didn't seem like a magnet for all the bad things in the world...but it does now. I'm beginning to dread the launch of the hot season, and its thunderclap of bad news. Next year, I firmly expect that I will impale myself on a cacti, get arrested, get bitten by a large dog/small child, and hear the news that Coke Zero is linked to -nay, creates - fatness. I'd gladly take on those burdens if it means sparing my family and The Boyfriend more turmoil in the summer, because frankly, I feel like they've had all they really can take on in the last few years.
Me, I thrive in October: the leaves are still on the trees, but the air has cooled and the tights have reappeared from the back of my closet. Folks can sleep. We all know the gray horror of winter is coming - it never fails, but in October, we can secretly hope to ourselves that it might skip us this year. Winter is a shared Canadian hell, where summer is each of privately suffering in our own unique miseries. Guess which one I prefer?