On Saturday I walked into town with my hair in the type of high ponytail that swings back and forth when you walk. I was carrying The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime which is a book I bought a long time ago, never read, and left in Canada. I bought another copy of it in a messy bookshop in Glasgow because it was £1 and hardcover and because I really wanted to read it.
The weather was hot and sticky; I probably felt more hot and sticky than I should have because I was walking fast. Even when I tell myself to slow down, even when I have no place to be, it is an ingrained habit of mine to rush places.
I’ve been walking more than usual lately. I tell myself it’s because the weather’s nice or because I want the exercise but I know there’s another hidden reason: I am chasing a feeling. The feeling itself isn’t easy to describe. It’s partly the feeling of being part of something – part of the throngs of people enjoying the city, sitting on park benches, shopping, drinking, doing something that doesn’t involve being inside. It’s also partly the feeling of being in Europe, being young, being in love, being carefree – all during the summer, a time that is captured so effortlessly in love songs, and polaroid pictures, and chapters in stories, and even in my own memory.
I romanticize summer the same way I romanticize train rides and New York. Summer to me is gardens with fairy lights or feeling tipsy on a restaurant terrace or watching the sunset while lying on a rooftop in Paris, which is something I’ve never done. It is also late night drives and white curtains fluttering through an open window, gingham blankets and wicker chairs. And it is pretty dresses, fields of green, bike rides in the countryside, and youth.
Romanticized summer always feels like long stretches of time; the type of endlessness you feel when you take a nap in some shady corner only to open your eyes feeling like 200 years have passed. The long drawn out days, doing nothing but reading and sipping lemonade, give off the impression that summer will last forever and that’s what the childlike part in you wants to believe. But deep down you know that summer will end because all things eventually end – and that’s what makes summer, and twilight, and being young so precious.
Perfect summers don’t exist in real life like they do in the movies. Usually it rains too much, all the patios are full, plans get cancelled, the strawberries aren’t as sweet as they look, you get too many mosquito bites, and everybody is having summer romances except for you. But all the same, I know the feeling that I’m trying to recreate because I look back at every summer I’ve ever experienced and there it is: etched in the velvety glow of street lamps at dusk, lingering in the fading smoke of the campfire, bathed in the sweetness of first kisses, bottles of rosé, open doors, and yellow flowers.