pressing play: volume five
Once school is out for college and high school students, thoughts of book reports and exams are pushed to the side for the deep-rooted expectation of something amazing happening during the summer. This expectation comes from the world of YA Fiction, a magical place chock-full of whirlwind romances (that begin with meet-cutes), protagonists with disposable income, and distant relatives with beach houses or cottages. In real life, the ever-present hedonistic sentiment lingers throughout the three months in-between semesters: anything can happen. But perhaps this thought has been amplified this year in particular by the phenomenon that is Mamma Mia 2 , which I took myself to see last Thursday to kill time before work . After an hour and fifty-four minutes of laughing, singing, and crying alone in the theatre all I wanted to do was sing ABBA songs, and a thought crossed my mind: what the fuck am I doing wrong that's not making three guys fall in love with me over the course of a summer? Am I only one pair of overalls away from having the charm and allure of Donna Sheridan?
There are many different sides of summer. Unbearably hot, thighs sticking to car seats and lawn chairs, sweat collecting at the nape of the neck, waking up to damp, tangled sheets. drops of ice cream trickling down a waffle cone under the sun. And let's not forget the playful, this-summer-is-ours-for-the-taking counterpart that consists of indulging in the privilege and responsibility of being handed the aux cord in someone's car, the sweet burn of liquor that travels from your throat to your belly after taking a shot, staying up for hours talking to someone about everything and not caring about the consequences.
While I've had my fair share of bar-hopping, mini dance parties in my friend's apartment, late night drives, going to concerts, impulse decisions, and even attending latte art throwdowns (a friendly competition between baristas), I've been experiencing a side of summer that no one really talks about, but everyone experiences in their own way. There's a specific kind of loneliness that exists in summertime, and it can hit at any time with no warning. This time of year feels different to me as I get older, and summer as a twenty-one-year-old, my first summer of living on my own, feels so strange.
A couple of weeks ago I was looking through a book called Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders. It was given to me by a high school boyfriend and still remains one of my favorite things, and going through the book page by page for the first time in years was an eye-opening experience. A Portuguese word that's included towards the back of the book resonates with me the most right now - "saudade." Simply put, it's another word for nostalgia, but it's much deeper in Portuguese - in Brazil, January 30th is Dia da Saudade. which celebrates the word's meaning and what comes with it.
Now, on to music. It's been a while since I've done a pressing play installment, so here I am. As I mentioned before, this is the first summer of living on my own. While it's been liberating, it's also been confusing to navigate emotionally - what do you do with so much independence?
I encounter so many people on a daily basis, and I work on one of the busiest, touristy streets in Cleveland. A lot of young twentysomething couples wander in through the door, their faces bright and happy, and when I see couples my age I wonder how they met - because there's so much that goes into meeting someone organically, so many little things dependent on happenstance - place, time of day, a look, a touch, a feeling. A couple of weeks ago I was reading outside in one of my usual downtown spots and a wedding party came through the gate to take pictures. The bridesmaids and the photographer were encroaching on my personal space so I offered to move. I had to leave fifteen minutes later to catch a bus, anyway, and as I was leaving I walked past a couple of groomsmen. "Thanks for joining us!" one of them said to me with a laugh.
I'm an independent person but sometimes all the time I have to myself forms a pit in my stomach. I've been exploring this with music, and my listening has been all over the place genre wise. At the beginning of the summer I was going through somewhat of a clusterfuck with my love life that I'd rather not elaborate on - but I listened to a lot of Frank Ocean and SZA. But as the summer progressed, and the world hummed around me as things happened in my own bubble, my music library became home to the sultry voice of Lana Del Rey, and indie muses like Yoke Lore and Tennis.
If you look at the list of songs I included you'll see how scattered I've been - being in touch with your emotions, with what you want, what you desire - is difficult to do between clocking in and clocking out, but possible during the increments of time I have to myself when I'm sitting on the courthouse steps on Superior Avenue after work waiting for the bus, or while I'm writing or reading. I'm told that I'm "put together" more than I prefer, and I'm not sure where this belief comes from or how it pertains to me because I really don't think I fit the mold of anything. There's more to a person than how much/how little effort they put into their appearance, and how they organize different parts of their life, and there's more to me than what I'm responsible for. It's what on the inside that counts, and internally, my mind and my heart are a mess - but isn't that how it's supposed to be in your twenties? I have plenty of saudade living inside of me - I want something but I don't know what it is. I'm anxious and contemplative, but I'm realizing that it's okay - I'm figuring myself out, one playlist at a time.