I’m meant to be on a diet. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d have salads and eat fresh fruit, drink my customary cups of tea (that is, exorbitant amounts), and exercise here and there as I do… but lately all I want to eat is chocolate cake, and ice cream, and blueberry pie. Things like that. Sometime a few weeks ago I figured the trip to the beach I’d been looking forward to just wasn’t going to happen and all of my fitness motivation evaporated more or less instantaneously. You see, I don’t have a car and even if I did, I don’t have a license (at twenty-four, one of my more obvious failings) so unless I could convince a friend to go to the beach it just wasn’t going to happen.
But I did go to the beach, technically. A few weeks ago G, A, D, and myself went up to Ogunquit, Maine, a gay destination in a similar way to Provincetown, if smaller. You can learn a lot about your friends by traveling with them, not all of it pleasant. For example, I learned that when in Maine, this set is quite boring. They didn’t want to go in because the water was too cold (!), even though I pointed out it would never be warmer than at that point in mid-August. They also didn’t want to eat seafood, so we ended up eating pizza! Pizza! In Maine. And so I watched the green, languorous and summery New England landscape slip behind me as we drove back to Boston, not having eaten a single bite of lobster meat nor having gotten more than my feet wet. I’ve decided they just aren’t the people to go on weekend excursions with, at least not that kind.
Anyway, since then I’ve put on around five pounds. Not terrible, mind you, but significant. I’ve promised myself I must cook more. Either that or marry a very wealthy banker who can supply me with endless dinners from trendy juice and salad bars (they’re popping up everywhere here as they did in New York City a few years ago).
But the cooking will be easier come fall. Fall, winter. Now those are my seasons. I can’t wait because, to be honest, Boston summers have never been my thing. Not with the oppressive heat and humidity.
In fact I’m looking forward to cooking. Soups and stews, baked pasta dishes, shortbread and cakes for tea… Cold weather foods. People often get seasonal depression in the winter, my ex was like that, and the man I’m sort-of-dating now is like that, so he tells me. But I bloom, then.
The summers are so seldom what one hopes for them to be. You see the landscape changing so drastically in that spring to summer period that you become convinced that your life will change, too. But it doesn’t. Or at least, mine didn’t. I’ve turned twenty-four. An alarming number, really. It’s not exciting like 21, it’s not a marker like 25…it’s a strange middle ground no man’s land. The beginning of the mid-twenties. My peers, who are all more practical than me, majored in engineering, and economics, and computer sciences; have all got better jobs and more stable career paths; shiny new new apartments and such. And I’m not exaggerating! I’m unfortunately at the bottom end of an exceptionally successful friend group. Some of them are even getting married (okay, mostly just the Mormons, but still).
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit worried. Lately I’ve been thinking about applying to grad school as a way to escape my job, having found that my degree is not very in demand anywhere else. I was walking by the Public Garden around rush hour yesterday and, I swear, you can see the most beautiful people at that time in that area. The men! Divine. In light summer suits, wind blowing cloth back against their bodies, many in just their shirt sleeves. And the women, too. Gorgeous. Brightly patterned dresses and flimsy wind swept blouses, immaculate hair. I mean everyone, but everyone, walking with such purpose, such inward determination as if a light were set in front of them signaling go!
Except myself, I was dawdling. I was looking at the sky and watching everyone else walk by. Someone recently asked me where I saw myself in five years. I loved that question when I was younger. Always knew the answer. When I was asked recently it sounded like an attack on my character. It wasn’t lack of certainty so much as a lack of basic direction that kept me from the answer. A lack of being able to at least envision a future, which is such an easy thing to do with a little imagination and self-knowledge. Or should be…
But in the moment, I just…couldn’t.
PS: I’m going to try and write more frequently, I swear!