It’s December, and here in SF, it’s sunny and lovely, and I’m currently wearing a tank-top. I walked along the beach yesterday, and it was great. I truly wouldn’t change any of it. But still, a tiny part of me is nostalgic for the cold, for hot cider and down jackets and things that make it feel like Christmas. I know it’s kind of silly, and I know that if I were in NYC right now, I’d probably be wishing it were warmer and praying that the landlord would turn on the heat a little early, or that the water wouldn’t take so long to warm for a shower in the morning. Or if it were warm in NYC, like it is today, I’d be cherishing it.
As a kid, it feels like there is so much change. Big change. There seem to be so many events that feel so significant. I grew up in a small town with four distinct seasons, and each one felt unique, like the whole world became different. Even if you grew up somewhere that wasn’t so classically seasonal, there was summer vacation, winter vacation, birthdays were so exciting you measured years in halves and quarters just to get closer (I’m six-and-three-quarters, thank you). Pre-Tevo, Hulu, and Internet, even new episodes of TV shows felt like huge events. Each year at school you got a new teacher. Each summer was unique.
As an adult, there is less change. Most people will work year-round, many at the same jobs for years. I personally rarely look forward to live TV shows and watch them all on Netflix in spurts. Maybe that’s why I love the changing seasons (and all anyone really loves is the change, because once you’re in the dead of winter or summer, you usually just want out)–you may be at the same job doing the same thing, you may have not had a vacation in awhile, but everything changes around you. Your world, for a few months, is completely different.
It’s something that I often try to capture in writing, especially because I write about high school, where each change does feel so monumental and big. I always find myself setting my books in the summer, because it just feels more magical than any other time, especially as a kid. And I often talk about the weather in writing, which is a no-no if you read any writing books. It’s boring, like a bad conversation where no one has anything to say. It’s the weather.
But it’s not. Reading about a muggy day and the first step into a beach reminds us of our own beach days, it takes us back to the sand and the waves and the coconut smell of sunscreen. We don’t remember how hot it was the next day, in the car with no AC. We don’t remember how much we wanted the heat to just calm down. Just like I have a hard time remembering how slushy and gross it gets in the streets after the powder-white snow starts to melt and congeal. It’s nostalgia–it’s not real–but it’s nice to think about. It reminds us of our best times, like going through a photo album.