“Happiness hit her like a train on a track”

It’s Labor Day, and everyone’s been rushing to get that last perceived fix of summer. Of course, they’re disregarding that the equinox isn’t for several weeks, much of August has felt like autumn anyway, and with the Midwest’s sense of meteorological humor we’ll end up with a heat wave in October.

I love summer as much as the next person, mostly because it isn’t winter. I’ve spent a long time trying to articulate what bothers me about the season, though, and it’s this: summer seems calculated to remind you exactly how ephemeral everything is. Some combination of your friends’ vacation pictures, advertising dollars, and the ghost of polar vortices past cries out to you with a resounding “Fuck you for not seizing the day hard enough. You are sitting in the darkness of your apartment doing crosswords, and you should feel bad about that.”

And you know what? Fuck that.

I had a great summer this year, flooded apartment and financial stress and intermittent crushing depression aside. I hit all the basics. (Barbecues? Check. Fireworks? Check? Frequent swims? Check. Firefly viewing? Check. Sunburn? Unfortunately, check.) I spent days tearing up Chicago with a motley group of lovable misfits from all over the globe who I am now privileged to call friends, showing them the city I love so much. I stayed with nigh-heroic friends for a week and wrote and ate mightily. I wandered my neighborhood playing Ingress and finding little waypoints I would never have thought to pass by. I played Dystopia Rising until my legs gave out and Changeling until my sanity did, and enjoyed every moment with those friends and those stories. I made my first trip to Gen Con. I spent my days setting the foundation for what I’d like my life to be, and my nights in thoughtful drunken conversation trying to process it all. There were road trips, and dancing, and blue hair, and you were there, and you were there, and you too.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood in Lake Michigan up to my ankles and watched the water gradate from silty tan to sea-green to aqua to that band of darker blue right where it touches the horizon. Then I went and bought peaches and ate one over my sink as the juice coated my arm.

It was enough.

I’m not very good with “enough,” but I think I’m learning.

Soon it will be fall, and that’s more my speed. In the meantime, I’m going to do less mourning the passage of time, and more watching. Just watching.

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All yesterday’s parties

Last night I took advantage of the bonus weekend night to go to a “prom” at the Empty Bottle. I wore a secondhand green dress and stood in a corner fighting off emotional surges and wondering why I was trying to pretend to know how being around people works. So basically exactly like my real prom except eight years older, legally able to drink, and not in the throes of a horrific UTI. Also, the music was better. Exhibit A and Exhibit B from last night vs. Exhibit C from 2005, submitted for the jury’s consideration.

Bar tips from your friendly neighborhood lightweight:

– The walls of bar bathroom stalls are the proto-Internet. This observation has probably been made before by someone far more clever than I am, but it bears repeating.
Read them.
Even in the seediest corners of the online world, it’s hard to find that elusive combination of camaraderie, vicious insults, misguided advice, social awareness, sexual innuendo, and existential dread in one place. It’s far rarer to be trapped with it rather than surfing away to a cat video immediately. Also, it’s a different experience to know that the people who wrote it were physically here, to wonder where they are now and if you’ll run into them on the street somewhere. I feel like this would be a valid subject for an anthropological study, or at least a Tumblr page.

– Photobooth pictures are inevitably awkward. Make them more awkward. The only way to win this game is to outdo it.

– If you have even the slightest inkling that your judgment is going to be impaired by alcohol, do yourself and everyone you’ve ever fucked a favor. Have a trustworthy friend confiscate your phone and not release it until you can pass a sobriety test. Sure, maybe you’ll Tweet something mildly witty when you’re just buzzed, but after that point the best-case scenario is that you’ll exchange sexts with someone you broke up with last decade, and the worst-case scenario is that you’ll text Feelings to someone you broke up with last week. (These situations are, of course, purely hypothetical.)

Also? Eggs for breakfast. I’m just saying.