Every time I fire up my car and feel my thighs adhere to the burning leather seats as I glance over to the beading iced coffee in my console, AC sputtering to a start, I feel one year shave off the back end of my life and send itself directly to Satan’s mailbox — posthaste.
That’s right folks, the sun heard all my complaining about winter and granted us the backhanded blessing of summer. If I took anything from the hot second I spent in physics 1 before withdrawing, it’s that what goes up must come down. I believe this law must also apply to weather. Therefore, what is cold must eventually become hot. And hot it has become.
I begin my day with my clothes plastered to me, like a fourth grader’s paper mache project, but with sweat and an oversized T-shirt instead of wet glue and former editions of The Pitt News. Despite the ceiling fan whirling above me and my legs escaping from underneath my comforter as I slept, I wake up feeling like I am now 70% woman and 30% sweat.
My dog glances up at me as I groan, his furry self unable to understand why I am not excited by the wonders of summer, specifically the idea of rolling around in the crisp, green grass. He looks longingly out the window. I shake my head. He doesn’t understand that the sun is now the enemy, especially when it wakes his owner up at 5 a.m., an hour before his owner needs to be awake for work.
I am his owner and there is not a blind dark enough to conquer the sun and it’s abominable, life-sustaining light.
I sit at the edge of my bed for the remaining hour, contemplating. I question the recent plans to invade Area 51 and whether the aliens would even be excited to see us if we visited them, before concluding that they would probably only be excited to see iconic actress Meryl Streep, because she has the range to understand alien pop-culture and aliens would probably like “Pretty Woman” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” I analyze various Democratic candidates’ platforms, because it’s July and apparently that’s close enough to the presidential election for me to care about this. I take stock of how Cancer season has treated me thus far.
My 6 a.m. alarm rings. I slap at my phone until the ringing stops.
Cancer season has treated me poorly.
From there I head to work, relishing the excess of air conditioning above my desk as I type away. Oh, what a joyous 68 degrees it is! What a wonderful occasion to wear my oatmeal-colored fuzzy cardigan again! I enjoy a hot mug of coffee and continue to complete my tasks, my exposed legs prickling with delightful goosebumps. But all that is good must come to an end as my work day comes to a close. I shed a single tear as I save my PowerPoints and Word documents, powering down my computer and placing my papers back into my filing drawer. It is now time to stand on the blacktop as it swells with heat, click my sensible nude heels together and go home.
From there I figure I should probably go for a run, seeing as I spend the whole day sitting in a spinny chair, not spinning. So I tug on my shorts, insert my earbuds and head out, sneakers pounding pavement, vision blurring slightly as the fatal combination of Lizzo and 90 degree weather begins to take its toll on my body. I shake it off, powering through the confusion, before immediately tripping over an exposed tree root. That’s enough exercise for one day.
I return home, enjoy an episode of Jeopardy, shower off the summer’s grime and return to my bed, ready to greet the next day with a heavy heart, a scowl and premature wrinkles from the aforementioned scowl. I dream of how summer would be back in Oakland, before realizing that my former frat house of an apartment doesn’t have any air conditioning and I spent last August taking two cold showers a day and storing my clothes in the freezer, just to have one cool moment of bliss before the heat blanketed me again.
Summer does have its perks though, but those perks are almost immediately reversed. This is a stiff game of Uno between me and the universe and I have yet to win.
Summer allows me to live my fantasy of wearing leopard-print bikinis and oversized sunglasses, feeling like the only lady to have ever existed, as I lounge on the beach, reading classic literature and eating sour cream and onion Pringles. But it also disrupts my beautiful delusions by gifting me sunburn all over my pale, Irish skin, no matter how often I apply sunscreen. My ancestors knew how to survive the famine, but they did not know how to keep their pink skin from peeling like a potato preparing to become a delicious gratin.
Therefore, I return to my flaking state, just like I lived in the winter, only this time, every time my skin flakes, it reveals angrier, redder skin underneath, sending me a searing gaze, scolding me for taking the Icarus approach to sun protection. I frown in return. After 21 summers, I should have known better.
While summer also brings about beautiful grilled foods and a revival of food’s Sistine Chapel — the pasta salad — summer also convinces the humble man that watermelon is a tasty treat rather than hummingbird water solidified into a pink, grainy slice with far too many seeds for comfort. That’s right. I’m not a coward. I’ll say it: watermelon is a trash fruit, and I won’t be convinced otherwise.
I tried to enjoy summer and all its splendors. I tried to smile while driving past children enjoying a Slip ‘N Slide. I tried to find peace while cruising around town with the windows down, listening to old Taylor Swift. I even tried watermelon, only to realize that if Mike Pence were a fruit, he would be watermelon, which it to say I was right all along.
I wish to feel the joy of warm chai lattes, new notebooks and oversized knit sweaters again. I wish to feel a gentle breeze wash over me as I browse the stands at a farmer’s market. I wish for it to consistently be a damp, drizzly November in my soul.
Until then, however, I will continue to sweat and complain.