Ever feel out of step? Really, truly, totally? To the point where you’re nearly afraid to voice your honest opinion, for fear that people will think you’re completely weird?
I feel like that around this time of year, every year. Because, because, because…I don’t really like summer. There. I’ve said it now, it’s out in the open, I can’t take it back.
I don’t really like summer.
I definitely don’t enjoy it, the way all of you seem to enjoy it so much. I endure it. I put up with it. I pretend to enjoy it, so as not to be churlish and rain – ahem – on everyone else’s parade. I mean, I can see that other people love summer. I can even see why they love it.
But I don’t. I almost dread its arrival, from late April or early May, when the days start getting longer and the weather warmer. I start to feel a vague sort of anxiety: oh God, here it comes again. Have to put up with this now until, thank God, autumn returns: a far cooler season, in all senses.
I quite like the long evenings – more than that, I really like the long evenings – but that’s about it. I’ve a particular aversion to the daytime and very bright sunshine (I know, not that frequent here, but we do get the odd burst).
All that sharp light, it makes you feel almost nauseous, but it’s a psychological rather than a physical thing…I think…
And when there’s a heat-wave – forget about it. Those torpid, surreal, horribly searing afternoons that just draaaaaaaag through time and space… The great American writer Don DeLillo said this of high summer: “There are days when a terrible message seems to be passing from sunlight to shadow at the edge of a striped afternoon in the returning fathoms of time.”
I’m not sure what that means, but I know what he meant. If you know what I mean.
It feels like someone has drugged you, and not with one of the good drugs either. Those days can make you feel dazed and half-crazy, like Albert Camus’ anti-hero Mersault in The Outsider, standing on a beach with a gun in his hand, the infernal sun in his eyes, blinding him, making everything skewed and unreal…
Summer’s a great time for kids, no doubt, and I loved it then as much as anyone else. Trips to the beach, ice-lollies, sticking things in melted tar to pass the day. What bliss it was to be alive that day.
But now, as an adult? I much prefer autumn to summer. It’s easier to cloister yourself away from the world (always a good idea) in autumn. Summer is too stark, too bright. There’s something depressing about it; time feels sluggish, even stilled to the point of paralysis.
Personally I feel more alive when there’s a breeze, when it’s stormy, even rainy… It’s like you’re stepping into the weather, fully engaging with it; whereas sunshine makes me retreat into the shade, under a metaphorical rock, like a self-aware lizard.
And at least there, you wouldn’t have to endlessly dissemble – okay, lie – about how much you’re enjoying the sun and isn’t it great and let’s all go to the beach and get scorched alive under the brutal, unrelenting god of fire in the sky.
Summer ain’t all that, and hot weather is literally and metaphorically painful. We see French and Spanish tourists trundling around in the Irish rain, and feel sorry for them. But has it ever occurred that the cool rain might be why they’re coming here in the first place?