There are two kinds of people in the world – the kind that love summer and the kind that love winter.
It’s not hard to see why people love summer. The long days that stretch into short nights. County fairs and carnival rides. Fresh produce. Fireworks. That feeling like anything could happen that seems to most frequently appear in that moment after the sun’s set in the summer, but it’s not yet dark.
Kelly and I left at the end of September when Portland was on the cusp of falling into fall, my favorite season. The air just smells better in October – a magical combination of smoke, crisp leaves, and pumpkins. It’s the season of sleeping in late, the season of Halloween and magic, the season of (as The Neighborhood immortalized it) sweater weather.
But I was ready to give that up for a new dream.
I knew that we were heading into an area of the world that never has sweater weather. I wanted to be one of those people that spend their time lazily on the beach with glowing tans. I pictured myself wearing dozens of hippie bracelets and pulling my sun-bleached, sea salt tousled hair into a high bun before running into warm waves, laughing.
In short, I wanted to be one of those people that love summer.
I don’t think it was one thing, but an accumulation of things that brought me to want to break up with summer. It starts slowly, this feeling. It’s like a low hum in the background you don’t notice until you do and then it’s the only thing you can think about.
Summer is a clingy partner, suffocating in its humidity. Every day becomes a monotony of sunshine. The skies are always blue, blue, blue. I have been sweating for months and I’m tired of doing laundry. My shoulders are crispy and sore no matter how much sunscreen I slather on. My legs remain white and pasty, but I have developed an embarrassing tan on my feet where the sun has left a drawing of the straps of my sandals.
There are other things about summer that never get mentioned by the people who love it. Mosquitos. Sunburns. Sand in everything. Constant sunscreen application. Sweating. Allergies. It’s not just the little things though. The plastic snow-covered Christmas trees mock me while I sweat. Christmas in 85F-degree weather just feels wrong.
December melts into January and I am fantasizing about coats, jackets, scarves, hats, gloves. I am fantasizing about being cold.
I was born in the middle of winter, but I always thought that summer birthdays must be better, right? There’s no school. It’s far enough away from Christmas that you don’t get that distinct feeling that people begrudge you for the audacity to have a birthday less than a month after Christmas.
This year for my 28th birthday, I get to do something I had never even dreamed – I am spending it on a beach, cocktail in my hand, basking. My birthday is spent lounging, eating, swimming, and napping on a loop. Kelly and I sit in papasan chairs at the edge of the lapping water for a seafood dinner as the sun sets over the water.
Maybe I was always destined to like autumn best. I was just born this way. I have made peace with the fact that I will never be a summer person, but I’m grateful for the chance to try to be. This year there’s no birthday cake, no presents, but I get to spend my winter birthday on a Cambodian beach, watching the sunset over the Gulf of Thailand.
I was born for winter, but this year, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.