Summer May Not Actually Be The Worst After All

Up until about four minutes ago, I hated summer more than most of you hate your worst enemies. (Which I say knowing few of you could hate your enemies with the enthusiasm I hate mine — but sure.) I hated the warmth, I hated the humidity, I hated the sunshine. I hated the pressure to have fun and to be outside and to exist in spaces like parks and “the outdoors.” I hated the clothes and the air conditioning and the fact that most of my summers have been defined by feeling bummed out and generally unwell. Since my early twenties, the summer always brought with it life lessons that were hard and whatever-the-opposite-of-fun is (not fun). I felt sick and sad and counted down to the first unseasonably cool day. I didn’t think I could hate anything as much as I hated the summer. And then this winter reared its head.

I joke a lot about how bad this winter was, but believe me when I tell you that it embodied terribleness in almost every sense of the word. Life stuff is the only real way to encapsulate it without going into tedious detail, and for the first time in my adult life, I wanted winter to burn. Days felt both painfully long and cruelly short. The weather made it impossible to do anything but wallow in the misery that comes with being snowed in, iced in, and stuck with nothing but your own cyclical thinking. And as if good, old-fashioned life stuff wasn’t enough, the winter forced me — and so many of my friends, it seemed — to stare our stuff in the face and be trapped with it in our homes and beds and cars and misc. locations in which we could cry while being and feeling mostly alone. It was The Shining of winters. Except sometimes I would’ve preferred the hotel because there was at least an abundance of food in that beautiful pantry. (Provided you forget everything else that happens in the story.)

For the first time, I began to count down to spring.

Which, even as I sit working outside (wearing a t-shirt, thank you, because my jackets and coats can go to hell until December), is a ridiculous response to a terrible time. Life events don’t wait for a particular season to descend on somebody, and you can be just as trapped and sad and stuck and miserable in July as you can in February (which I can personally attest to). But this year, I needed spring (and need summer) to exist as proof that life goes on. That even though everything feels frozen and cruel and harsh and unliveable, those feelings subside because not even the worst things last forever. But to get there, I needed to see the snow melt, the ice dissolve, and the promise of windchill to fuck right off. It’s hard to grow when you’re too cold to exist outside.

So to my fellow summer-haters, I apologize. I’m sorry that I’m going to get psyched about it being warm and sunny and I’m sorry that I’ve already bought summer clothes because I’m the worst. I’m sorry that I’m not going to curse the humidity because I still remember how it felt to look outside at 4 p.m. and see nothing but snow and ice and darkness. I’m sorry that I’ve joined in the chorus of everyone who is already dreading winter, and I’m sorry I’ve become a cliché who takes photos of lakes.

I just need the reminder that time keeps moving, and that in only a few weeks, the desolation of winter is forgotten with the abundance of leaves and green grass and temperatures that make snow impossible. “It will shock you how much you never happened” is a phrase Don Draper once says to Peggy in Mad Men and is one I tend to think about a lot. This year, I’m applying it to winter. But just to prove how much I’m still myself, I will also apply it to the summers I swore by flip-flops.

I may be embarrassingly in love with this basic-as-hell season, but I’m not about to be wearing the worst type of footwear over it.

Tags: Anne T. Donahue

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