April 6, 2010

Fake Summer

It is officially fake summer here. Fake summer is my favorite time of year. It is better than actual summer because it is unexpected, and seems portentous. It's like stolen french fries. For me, anyway. Significant life events always seem to come calling as soon as that balmy, rare spring/summer rolls in. This fake summer has been no different. But before I get into that, I'd like to include this. I wrote this in an online journal entry on March 10, 2004. I am including this because it is what I think of every time a string of eighty-some-degree days punctuate the tepid spring weather. It may seem silly, but the day I wrote this, I realized that I wanted to write.

March 10, 2004

This is our life. We are driving down Palm with the windows down and music blaring wearing our skirts, and the hot fake summer air is whipping our hair in our eyes, and we don't mind. We are crying in each others' arms because someone else's life conflicted with our dreams, bursting the bubbles we guarded in our hearts. It's those bubbles we're dreaming of when we are driving down those many streets, hot air whipping our hair in our eyes.

and they don't love you like i love you

We are listening to the lyrics of another song and it makes us cry but we hide our tears from each other, terrified of revealing our inherent weakness. There are seconds, there are days, and they are all once in a lifetime days and seconds and every time we blink we lose another once in a lifetime sight. We are looking at those things we have seen so many times before but we'll never see them the same way again. We are growing up. Second by second, day by day, until it's over.

and they don't love you like i love you
oh say say say

We are wishing we could get those seconds and days back, because they held our dreams intact, before they were burst and the tears wouldn't stop. But they're gone gone behind us and today is a once in a lifetime day and this second is a once in a lifetime second. We will never get it back. And in 10 years, we won't remember this day or second, because in 10 years it'll be a once in a lifetime day and second. And we're hoping it'll be a good one.

In late August I will be moving to DC. On April 1st I was rejected from UVa's creative writing MFA program, and had a moment of crisis in which I declared to my mother that I was going to give up and live in a trailer and make bird houses for the rest of my life. Luckily, I then got a call from American University, and they're offering me a merit based fellowship, meaning that two years of graduate study will be covered by the university. So, rather than fulfilling my lifelong dream of bird-house-building, I think I'll go to American University to get an MFA in fiction writing, live in DC, and rejoin the world. Fake summer never fails to deliver. I am very excited, and nervous, and confident that this is the right thing. I am also sad, because I will be so sad to leave this place. Luckily, that won't happen until I've had my fill of humid Virginia summer, which I'm getting my first taste of right now.

It smells like summer here, which means that it smells like my childhood. The island is hot and wet, wild ramps and onions lining the ditches and turtles and rabbits emerging from their winter hideouts. The water around the island is still winter-cool, and the breeze sweeps cold, cold salt-smelling air across the land, a sensation akin to a sip from a sweating glass of lemonade on an afternoon in July. At night, when it is windy and hot like this, I walk out across the lawn and down the dock and dangle my bare feet above the water of Barn Creek. The stars here are bright and crowded, and I think of the comets and meteor showers when I was a child. My father would wake me in the middle of the night to go stand in a field with him, and we would watch, and then he would carry me home. A stolen time. Sometimes I woke with no memory of it. How strange it is to grow up, and how strange to remember your childhood as a kind of adult. The smell of Gwynn's Island in summer is like lawn clippings and wet pine and salt water and rotting leaves--it never changes. I am breathing deep and trying to remember all of this, every second, to sustain me in the time after I have left this place.

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