an you feel it? The air has changed. Perhaps you feel tired. Perhaps you feel angry. Perhaps you are suddenly longing to trudge through a huge pile of snow. Welcome to Bad Summer.
As previously mentioned, the official dates of Good Summer are June 4th to July 31st. This is the scientific* interpretation, and in the fairness of science, I think I should expose my bias upfront: My personal Good Summer only exists between June 4th and July 4th, but I will attempt to keep an open mind through the rest of this intellectual exploration for fear of alienating Leandra’s #lovesummerhateeverythingelse base.
So what delineates Good Summer from Bad Summer? So glad you asked. Good Summer breezes in with the sweet promise of freedom and ice cream cones to come. It’s like spring but bolder. The sun shines only to warm your face and tan your skin. Good Summer represents a much longed-for levity, both physical and metaphorical. The longest day of the year, the relief of no longer having to bundle up, the freedom to walk wherever you want. Your neighbors spilling out into the streets to stretch their limbs and remind themselves why they choose to be where they are. Enjoy it, because while it is brilliant, it is brief.
August first. Enter Bad Summer. It’s too hot. It’s been too hot forever. Can you even remember Good Summer? What did you like about it anyway? Your throat hurts from sleeping in the air conditioning. Your skin itches from the weeks of dry sweat you try but fail to remove, like a constantly humid Lady Macbeth. You reconsider everything, your stance on Botox (gonna get it to stop sweating), your concern for the environment (it’s all going to hell anyway, I’m gonna drink a plastic bottle full of seltzer in the AC with the window open), love (is the support and care of another person worth the extra body heat?). You go to the beach but you do not frolic, all you can focus on is the garbage in the sand and the mutant fish in the water. You grow tired of the smell of grilled meat, once the mesquite sign of a cookout full of joy and laughter reminds you only of your own hot decaying flesh. Whoever thought endless summer was something virtuous?
Many people think winter is a lonely and isolating time, but Bad Summer has thrown its hat into that particular ring as well. Sure, you’re inside more in the winter, but so is everyone else! Hermitude is baked into the social order! Hygge! During Bad Summer, however, if you find yourself hiding out from the sun’s brutal rays, it comes with a special side of guilt because, well, it’s summer, and you should probably be outdoors doing something “fun.” You tell your out-of-town friends not to visit you, knowing that Bad Summer will make you all too grumpy to enjoy each other’s company. When you are with people, the sounds of their voices are drowned out by your own internal screaming.
Even if you #lovesummerhateeverythingelse, Bad Summer is bad for you, too. Because it signals the end, forcing you to face down all you have yet to do and realistically won’t get done before fall (mercifully) cools things down and bundles folks up. It is a time for the melancholy checking-off of one’s summer bucket list.
Harling’s friend Anthony describes August as a month full of Sundays, which is the true Bad Summer Rorschach test. Does August feel like the Sunday Scaries of the calendar year? Dangling you between the fulfilling fun of Good Summer but not fully allowing you to return to normalcy, to just get the dang thing over with? Or is it truly your Sunday, a bittersweet end, to your favorite part of the year — a time for checking off those final, joyful errands before getting back to business? No matter where you fall on the Good Summer/Bad Summer/ Why Are We Even Talking About This When The Earth Is on Fire? spectrum, the good news is we have each other, a mass of sweaty, sticky, exhausted, and exasperated humans wanting to return to the past but knowing that the only choice is to move forward, ceaselessly and steadily, toward Good Summer once again.
Feature photo by Staff/Mirrorpix via Getty Images.