At a birthday party, Sunday evening, I sat next to my friends and told them I have been on an accidental dystopian novel kick. Accidental, because I hadn’t intended to read Brave New World immediately after 1984, nor could I resist picking up a copy of Lord of the Flies for a dollar, all within the span of the last two weeks…
Oops and uh huh, and oh my head indeed.
Thankfully, these were bookish friends I confided in, in the know and ultimately trailing their own literary adventures. But it does make you wonder what kind of mood it takes to peruse such foreboding material, so casually, for a set space in time. Curious, because I am infamously seasonal in all things I do. In the context of reading, for example, I’m rarely in the mood for Louisa May Alcott outside of winter. Spring showers make my heart glow extra, because they mean dates with Mr. Rochester, sentimentalism with Willa Cather, and mystery solving with my good friend, Wilkie Collins. And don’t get me started on academic autumn!
Summer is here, with its days that stretch into nights with a long, humid yawn. It is the season of sweaty neighborhood festivals, of beach blankets and shade, the season for impossibly round, ripe fruits, and heavy sandwiches. Summer is the season of nostalgia. A time to dance, with arms in the air, to the tune of your own inner native.
This past week alone has been filled with the sorts of events that make a summer feel full. Birthdays. Blooms. Family. Friends. And the reality is that I’ve been smiling quite a bit, and laughing very loud, and extra. It’s strange then, to return from these occasions, to plop onto my bed and resume processing the gloomy alternate universes of Huxley and Orwell. It is strange to find myself absorbed in perspectives that point out so critically what is wrong or doomed within our society. I agree with Huxley, especially. I think, how uncanny it is that he foresaw a society with all its desires gratified, with pills that take any pain away, ultimately spelling the death of individualism, emotion, and consequently humanity….
And then I notice that the popsicle in my hand is melting. I look up as other realizations slowly arise, coming to life around me in the thick June air. An essay I’m hoping to finish has a July 1st deadline. A pastels project, recently scrapped, awaits a new beginning. Gigi paces and paces. Her collar tinkles. I laugh, and am suddenly flushed with the feeling that, for all my recently processed fears, I still feel very much human. A-ha. Relief. How thrilling — the classic novel. It is everything a summer can be made of.
Dear friend, I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you on our chosen Thursdays and Fridays. Fingers crossed I will be more timely next week. In the meantime, wishing you all the joys of a lovely summer day, with enough light left in the evening to illuminate your next great, human endeavor.