Greetings from the cave, friends.
It's Juneuary here in Seattle, that lucky mixture of the grey, rainy days of January and the long, bright days of June. When I first moved back to Seattle I resented this month the way rich kids resent their parents; I was entitled to my sunny summer, and where was it? I couldn't believe I had ever professed to like Seattle's pewter skies. But it's been an astonishing five years since then, and with each passing year-- and 4,000 iu of Vitamin D a day-- I now remember why I loved this weather so.
It's perfect weather for staying inside and writing.
Seattle's summer is damn-near exquisite. Once it gets going, it's so pretty a puritan would think the devil had a hand in it. And as soon as that mad ecstatic gorgeousness is let loose on us wriggling Seattlite cave worms, something happens. We freak the fuck out. The streets flood with half-naked people, each one of us with a pasty winter skin trailing from the bottom of her heel until a kindly person steps on it like so much toilet paper. There's music in the streets, jugglers, a rainbow extends from one end of Lake Union to the other. Queen Anne Hill reaches its arms out to Capitol Hill, and we offer perfect strangers bites of our sandwiches.
In the morning I wake up to egg yolk sun and robin's eggshell skies with fluffy scrambled eggwhite omelette clouds.
(I'm eating eggs right now!)
I wake up in this eggy splendor and then I freak the fuck out. I can't sit still. I can't focus for longer than a sentence. I walk around the house with eight hundred million trillion kajillion ideas for stories, essays, blog posts, novels, memoirs, sexual positions, yoga positions, political positions. I write long lists containing all the pieces I want to work on this season and then, when it comes time to work through the list, I realize that what I really need to do is re-write the list in a different pen color, on a smoother sheet of paper, and this time I need to number the items instead of bulletpoint them. Meanwhile the drums from Capitol Hill are calling everyone to leave the house, come to the park, get your coffee on ice. Talk to other people. Do this drug that is Seattle in summer.
I've tried to understand and remedy what happens to me in the summer, and I think this is it: the sun is precious here in the land of the 3pm winter sunset, and when it shines on us for so many hours in a day-- by July we'll have light till after 10pm-- it provokes an existential crisis. This crisis is both instantaneous and ecstatic, as if Robin Williams were hollering CARPE DIEM through every vent in the house while the sun shines through the window like the face of god, reminding you that god was invented so you wouldn't fear death, and that you fear death because you have a sneaking suspicion that death might be the real end of you, and if you will really end then you'd better get the hell out of the house and get carpe fucking dieming before then.
It's like Seattle has been told it has fifteen weeks to live. It's very hard to write in the midst of such a thing.
But bless you, Juneuary. A week of madcap summer antics and then the grey returns. Suddenly I'm in full-writing mode, working every morning on my new book, one I've been wanting to write for years. When that work is done for the day, I get to my research, my emails and the business side of work. Later I might take a bath, or go to yoga, or for a walk. I might meet a friend for a drink or see a play or just settle in with the husband to eat dinner and watch horror movies. I don't feel that I need much more. It's as if I am living every second of every day as I was designed to-- not seizing the day, that implies too much will and clenching of fists. It's more like I'm sort of holding the day. Or being held by the day. Or maybe just being the day.
My days fold into night along the same creases: writing, reading, dinner, sleeping. Wake up, unfold. There are better days and worse days, but my work feels like silver threads weaving through the grey, and that is all the beauty I need.
July is coming. I have no solution for that. So instead, I think we're going to throw a party. Give in to it, be the hot yellow day. October will be back soon enough.