Waking up to the light
(All photos in this post taken with my groovy LG enV cell phone.)
I always wake up to summer too late. More than any other season, summer passes me by. I see it coming as spring days grow longer and warmer. I try to take in the leafy green trees, the flowers, the sunshine, the fresh fruits and veggies, the outdoor concerts, the lemonade and iced tea. But the hot days of June, July, and August are mostly a haze of extremes: sweltering in the humidity or feeling cut-off from the real world in climate-controlled (but blissfully unsticky) buildings.
When the end of August rolls around, I abruptly realize that summer is nearly over. Autumn is my favorite season, the time of year I look forward to most, so I don't really mourn summer's end. Still, as September arrives, I suddenly feel greedy for warm, fresh air and the feel of sun on skin. And the shorter days throw off whatever vague sense of time I have. I never stop being shocked when the sunlight fades before 9:00pm. All winter long the little window of daytime baffles me.
I walked out to the mailbox on Thursday in a tank top that exposes much more skin than I usually show in public. It was late in the day, but the air was still hot, and a warm breeze wafted over my shoulders. In that moment, I felt like I'd been absent from summer all season, absent from my own body for years, absent from such corporeal pleasures for a lifetime.
As this summer fades, something inside of my body is waking up. I needed a haircut a month ago, but have a sudden resolve to let my hair grow long for the first time in 13 years, even though I know that shorter hair works better and is easier for me. Logic and reason (and my hairstylist) tell me to stick with what works, to keep my fun, flippy style. But I yearn for the feeling of my own hair on my neck. I want to draw up my locks in my hands, tie a loose ponytail or let them fall through my fingers. I want to flick my hair over my face or over my shoulder and flirt with my husband.
Why this sudden need for flowy femininity?
I have a tan right now for the first time in at least five -- possibly 10 -- years, mostly by accident. Even though I'm naturally very pale, I used to turn such a lovely golden color in the summer. But many factors drove me inside over the years: fear of skin cancer; an irrational and growing fear of bugs that buzz and sting; no longer having a swimming pool; working in offices; weight gain that makes it embarrassing and uncomfortable to be out in the heat.
But a few weeks ago I forgot to wear sunscreen to the garden center and ended up with a slight burn that faded to a light tan. I know it's not the best skin care regimen, but I think the sunlight did me some good. I think it nourished something in me, reminded it to grow, to stretch toward the light.