(read time 4 mins 30 secs) Summer is my favorite season. Since moving to San Francisco from Boston (going on 15 years now?), I’ve considered it essential to return home for the sweat and simmer of a good New England heat. While San Francisco has many charms, sadly, a hot summer is not one. This migration has become as much need as it has tradition, for although it is sweltering weather I crave, there is something far deeper at work with each 3000 mile homecoming.
Each June, without fail, I find myself at a pressure point. In recent years, summer has meant a breather from classes, a grind that included not only a push for high grades, but of maintaining an adult working life as well. Since graduating last spring, this year’s shift into summer has a different feeling, yet with similar hues (to use a synesthesia). Finishing a long-overdue 2nd album (put on hold for said education), and planning shows on opposite coasts, hearkens to things 'graded' and of 'commencement.' This particular tension is right now at a peak, and I catch myself fantasizing of bath warm air, thick with verdant smells and a slower pace. These 'lucid dreaming' moments are so poignant; the hair on my arms is tickling as I type. Summer is a release, a break from burdens, a season I escape to.
Summertime also means loved ones, of course. There is exquisiteness in quelling a shared yearning, accumulated over a year. Returning home, I am beneficiary of an abundance of delightful energetic exchange, as I have many long-time friends there, as well as immediate family. Those first excited hugs hello are precious, but there is nothing sweeter than relaxing into 'being' with these special souls. Easy laughter and equally easy silences; shared honesty; minute day plans that extend into nighttime; knowing old connections are only minutes away; and even creating crackling new ones. These are also moments that call me home. Summer is acceptance, adventure, mirth—being surrounded by pure love.
And yet, even with all of this familiarity, I am now a resident of San Francisco, and as such, I haunt the old town with new spirit. While back in New England, I am between worlds—no longer the east coaster in full, and not really of the west. I like to jokingly call this "bi-coastally challenged," though I feel it is not so much a challenge as it is a unique gift. A buoyancy accompanies my journeys, like being suspended in a benevolent ocean (yes, I did just write that). As I submerge, like oxygen to water, tiny bubbles of everyday worries come with me—my impressions of how others see me; my judgments of myself; finances; commitments; goals; and even the concerns of politics and society. But the longer I stay, the more the bubbles dissipate, floating off steadily, until I have clear views in all directions, inside and out, of myself—who I am without a routine, what I choose when options are open, the natural playfulness that is just below the surface of the everyday.
In many ways, summer is a time of accounting, taking stock, seeing what matters and what doesn't, shedding weight of all kinds, and keeping only what is essential to 'float.' Beneath the richness of Boston's summer veil, I am not the self I left as for California in 1998 nor that I associate with salty New England realness (though admittedly, I am soothingly reminded each year that my directness and bluntness are the in-born traits of my home soil); nor am I the self that makes her life as a San Franciscan—I am myself, unfettered. The soul beyond my name, face, place; light, easy-going, full of energy and ideas, spontaneous, at peace in my own company as much as the conversation of a stranger. Summer is a return to 'me-ness.'
Summer solstice is upon us. Midsummer's eve. Today, I am remembering remembering who I am. And I’m looking forward to summertime.