Every year, the end of July arrives like a bullet.
June and July are intense, and you’re not getting any younger. You want to squeeze these months for all the juice they have. You desperately want to have the summer experience you remember from your childhood – the possibility of triumph and adventure – mixed with the aesthetic of the summer sold to you by fashion advertisements where everyone is really really attractive, and somehow the fact that they’re sweating through their clothes is an advantage. You want to have a good time with your other hot friends, looking cool as ice, drinking a glass bottle coke with water droplets glistening in the setting sun. You want to sit on that roof with your person, knocking back a few light beers and having a conversation you’ll remember forever, chaperoned into existence by a special blend of hops and carbonation.
Each morning of the summer, is a surly blur of past events: bbq’s, parties, shows, concerts, interventions, etc. You’re emotionally hungover from obligation. June is always a ramp up month. You start to have weekend plans and then you have to get used to actualizing (read: commuting to) them. You begin to say ‘No’ to your friends who ask you if you’ll be around on Saturday for an impromptu get together. You tell your roommates you’ll ‘be gone all weekend,’ despite their protests that you’ll be missing such good coleslaw. ‘It’s fine,’ you reply, you’re ‘going to make some for Aunt Marie’s house, and if any is leftover, it’ll be for you guys.’
You travel around the Monopoly board, going past Go and every week and finding a new way to spend $200. Before you know it, it’s fucking July 4th and the pool of event options overflows to an ocean. Ten million things you can do, and only one thing you want to do: nothing. It’s hot and sticky out, and the burgers and beers you’ve inhaled work in concert to ensure you physically don’t look like an American Eagle model, and that your clothes are covered in grease stains. But, its the 4th and you’re a patriot, so you go out, you enjoy whatever the event is, and you watch fireworks even though they’re too fucking loud. The rest of July goes this way: Your inhibitions are blowing in a summer wind, and you aren’t here to just let the summer happen with you at home. Plus, you’re still mired in a hangover cycle from the 4th. What, you’re supposed to have a dry week in the middle of the summer?
And THEN! July 30th stares back at you from your phone. You haven’t BEEN to the beach yet. You haven’t met someone to enjoy those rooftop beers with. You still have that old air conditioner that’s blowing moldy air all over your room under the guise of refreshment. The coleslaw never got made. You’re drinking too much. Now you have one month left to accomplish these goals and you think, ‘Well one month isn’t enough time. Lets just keep it going the way it’s going, and before I know it the summer will be over and the FOMO will dissipate. It’ll all just be pictures on an instagram anyway, so what difference does it make if I don’t actually have the experiences I had desired.’ You start to focus on the fall and the winter, and the coming together of humanity that those months and their respective holidays represent. Big dinners and sweaters and more beer and hibernating around the hearth of community traditions.
I call out to those of you reading who still have a fight left in your bones.
The world is a broken place filled with compromise and half measures and people eking out an existence. Don’t just idly float down that lazy river. So what the summer’s almost gone. It means nothing. It’s a construct that people build their social media around. You don’t have to subscribe to that casual insanity. You have the ambition to take the time of year where being outside truly makes you feel one with nature and you grab it by the face and kiss the shit out of it. Sit outside reading, watch a sunset, feel the cool breeze on your face and try at least to catch a firefly or two.
And it doesn’t matter that you don’t fit into the narrative of the world around you. The summer, and the “summer” and the sense that there’s a greater understanding of the world just beneath the next row of beers in the cooler is a myth. The summer is whatever part of the year you feel the most freedom. Whatever makes you feel like the animal you are, and drives you to the top of a cliff to howl at the moon and let the universe know your story is being told and the end is nowhere in sight.
And I call you to not fret about what you haven’t done. Pick a day in September, when no one else is there and the idea of summer is gone for most. Get up early and drive to Point Pleasant NJ. Hop over the boardwalk and walk barefoot across the sand, putting your toes in the ocean where the waves break. Go home, back to where our pre-humanity ancestors scraped and tugged and pulled and bled to escape the primordial ooze, where they rose up out of nonexistence and fought to be a force, to have an effect on the world around them. Stand at the precipice of existence, your toes frozen by the chilly waves of the Atlantic, and remember that the only experience you owe the world is just to live.