“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. “- F. Scott Fitzgerald
With summer came sunshine, blue skies, waves crashing. There were barbecues, late nights out, fireworks, ice cream cones, fire-pits, carnivals, and all the things that movies are made out of. With all other years, summer was the time I felt best. It’s the time most of us are at our happiest because come on, who can be miserable with such joy available at our fingertips?
Funny thing is, this was the first year I feared summer. I was used to fearing winter..being afraid of having to drive in the snow, having a lack of sunlight, never knowing if the power would go out, but summer, summer was nothing one was ever taught to fear. The doctor told me that I should avoid the sun. I should avoid the heat. Two things that brought me such pleasure and calmness years prior. I was terrified of taking my first trip to the beach, something that had become a very important piece of my self-care journey beginning in graduate school when I only lived a couple of blocks away. We were unsure what would happen if I was outside for too long. Would I go into anaphylaxis right away? Would it start small, where I’d start to have blurred vision or get tingling in my arms? Would it be as obvious as complete flushing that would carelessly be mistaken for sunburn? Suddenly something that was routine once again completely and utterly perplexed me. Summer felt like it held power over me.
Was I supposed to “push through” and make it work? Was I over-reacting? Should I just “try and see” what happens? But what about all those other people..how was I supposed to prepare anyone else? Who could I trust enough to experience this with? The questions became endless. It became another task that I had yet learned how to conquer in my new world.
So I started small and began the infamous trial and error that occurs with this disease. I began preparing a week ahead of time, making sure all other areas of my life were as under control as possible. I was determined to not be like everyone else who reacted strongly to such a situation. I was set in my ways that I was different. I hadn’t surrendered because the beach was what summer days were made of to me. If I couldn’t have the ice cream, the barbecues, the long nights out, I was at least going to absorb a couple of hours de-stressing and rejuvenating myself to the sound of the waves. No one was going to tell me otherwise.
Some days it “worked”, some days it sure as hell didn’t. No one could possibly know the difference or understand why. Some days I beat myself up for thinking I could manage, for making justifications for why it would be okay, why I could push it a bit longer, why I didn’t need to then follow all other protocols. Other days I shrugged my symptoms off for the benefit of stillness that I wasn’t able to find anywhere else. Most of the time, I couldn’t be of much use afterwards. The long days suddenly became shorter ones every time I found myself wanting to soak in all that the summer rays had to offer me. I felt less and less capable of doing what those around me were able to. I felt betrayed by summer.
When summer begins to slip away and the smell of fall is around the corner, people begin to dread the shorter days, the colder weather. You hear people moan. You see them ignoring the fact that it’s September, then October. You see them at the beach until the last possible moment, as if it’s going to just disappear on them and never come back. Even those who are fondest of autumn still have difficulty letting go of the wonders of summer. For me, summer had become something of a faint memory that no longer served its purpose.
Instead of losing sleep over all the things I didn’t do on my bucket list, I’ve decided to open my arms up to a fresh beginning. One full of continuous change, where the leaves don’t stay true to their color for more than a couple of days before they gracefully let go of their own place they call home. One where the chill reminds me of how alive I really am.
So for now, until next year, summer. For only a fool would turn down the fresh beginning that autumn brings.