She’d been racing with the setting sun on the road, waiting for summer to begin. Summer is always promising, and she desperately wanted something to believe in, something to keep her warm, something to love again.
She loved him when her feelings were still raw. Summer was hot and hazy and breathtaking, and the road seemed to go on forever. Intensity was rising higher than she’d ever expected life to take her. He gave her so much love that soon, she was also pouring love into other people. He didn’t mind.
‘Beautiful things are meant to be shared,’ he told her.
She continued his smile. Their trades were always fair — one gave love, the other joy.
She was joy.
By now she knew that warmth only lasts as long as summer, that summer was over and so was the way she used to feel about things.
She was going to be more careful this time. More careful with the yeah-buts, the what-ifs, the not-nows. When she first used them, she was a child. She didn’t know a wrong move could end the game, because people always told her that the right thing to do was what she felt, so she did it. Then everything felt wrong.
She’d been telling herself for a while that things didn’t have to be how they were, but how she saw them. But her vision changed with the end of summer too. Bright reds turned into dark shades of autumn, blending together in a sadness that she could not pick the happy pieces out of. Let it be, she sighed to herself and embraced her new-found sad place.
In the summer, there were only love, laughter and confusion. Now, things have settled and the confusion was gone. Together with it, though, so were the other two.
She wanted to ask him to talk her out of her feelings, but knew she’d only have silence for him. After a while, you forget the words that should have meant the world at the right time. You forget your intentions, your musts, your could-have-beens. You’re left with the bitter taste of the present. Carpe diem, she smiled through the tears.
Her sadness was nothing new anymore. Having it ripped off, even by someone as gentle as him, was no longer an option. She hated it. And she became it.
At night, she would wake up with cold hands and feet, and pillows piled up high under her head. Joy still sprung out of her consciousness like loud screams, keeping her awake. She always slept in the position of a question mark. The answer was him, every time.
But after a while, she was once again burning hot with desire to stay alive, even if life was going to be tough; she wanted to be tougher. Bitterness became too consuming. It wasn’t a wonderful world, but it was something; and she had been slowly moving towards nothingness.
She embarked on a personal journey to winter. Winter is never as bad as they make it look like in stories. In stories, winter is a metaphor; it’s when your soul grows icicles out of your unhappiness. She wasn’t looking for happy, she was just looking for something else, so winter might have been her place.
She left without knowing why and didn’t ask for warm hugs from anybody. It was only at night that she still looked for the little warmth left inside. Summer was hot and hazy and breathtaking, and she forgot to save some for the upcoming winter. But summer is always infinite while it lasts; no one ever thinks of September.
It was almost October.
She travelled light, forgetting names and faces as she moved from one place to another. She didn’t buy postcards or souvenirs because happiness is the only thing that unhappiness comes out of, once consumed. She wanted to save herself the tears. She only wanted to save herself.
She slowly began to move focus from him to something bigger. Life was, at that point, strip after strip of the seen and the unseen, and the felt and the unfelt, and the lived and the forgotten-to-live that covered her up and suffocated her.
She knew that everything once considered new eventually adds up to the enormous pile of things no longer necessary, but unable to dissolve in her bloodstream. That the new becomes old with every blink. Fresh and exciting, it knocks at your door and you can’t help but have it in, when home is already full of things that came wrapped up in fresh and exciting. After a while, immobility calls itself maturity. She didn’t want to go there yet. She didn’t want to go anywhere else either, but she couldn’t stay put. It would have happened that way.
There was a mountain of herself knocking at her door; it looked pretty, but she couldn’t let it in. It would have torn her apart.
What to do with the beautiful things whose time has passed? She didn’t want to bring yesterdays back around. She only wanted to find the answer.
She missed him, every now and sunset, every sunrise and then, and sometimes, all the times in between. That summer was the greatest burden she’d ever carried around, and getting rid of the rest only seemed to add clarity to it. Andy Warhol said that he hated getting boxes of chocolate, although he loved it so much. The thought of having an entire box of chocolate waiting to be finished was a pressure that took the enjoyment away. She wanted to finish with all of her old self, but every time she got to his gift of love things complicated. She couldn’t enjoy things anymore, and she couldn’t consume them all at once either. Killing love and summer seemed unbearable, even when their time had long passed.
She looked long and hard wherever she found a little bit of him, or her, or truth and hardcore feelings like she remembered her summer. But the world isn’t always a mirror. Sometimes it didn’t show her the details she was looking for — then she knew the mirror trick was a lie. The world was the trace line; all the rest was personal.
What to do with the beautiful things whose time has passed? became the soundtrack of the journey. She couldn’t find anywhere to bury beauty, because she was afraid she’d feel unbeautiful without it. The idea of creating something new scared her too. Liberating far less than frustrating, it would have only added up to the weights dragging her down, forcing her to stay. She didn’t want to stay. Staying also scared her.
Bouncing from one place to the next, she was stuck in fear. Free as a bird, with long, heavy chains around her heart. Her blood was turning colder every night, and she blamed it all on the now unavoidable winter.
By now she knew the answer wasn’t to be found in more films watched alone on weekends, more coffee shared with friends in foolish attempts to figure life out, more pillow talk before yet another sleepless night. The answer wasn’t in any of these places.
Anything can happen. Anything goes, she thought. She’s taken her foot off the pedal. Life could take her places, interesting as they might be they wouldn’t have what she was searching for. And without knowing for sure what it was, she couldn’t abandon something so precious. Who knew?
She wasn’t searching anymore.
The only things that I never regretted doing, not doing or not-doing-enough-and-only-got-to-almost-there were the things that I lived fully. They went through me like hurricanes, leaving nothing behind. No weights, no pictures, no second hand hope. No yeah-but, no what-if, no could-have-been. Nothing, but a changed self. Because what’s the point of all of this, if you don’t let it change you? If change doesn’t end up swimming in my new blood, I don’t want it to occupy my mind; I don’t want it at all.
I don’t know the answer to my question, I never found it. It was what I’d been looking for, but nowhere to be found. Eventually, time lets you live with your seen and unseen, felt and unfelt, lived and forgotten-to-live, but you don’t lose them. You can’t lose something you forgot to lose when you should have, or you forgot to hold on to. You live with the regret and, if you’re lucky, the beautiful things whose time has passed.
But if you do it right, you find the answer to a better question: What to do with the beautiful things whose time is just about to come?
Take them in. Like a hot, hazy July, the afterglow, going places, facing hard questions and deep fears. Like change, so you never have to ask yourself again where to bury the leftovers of summer, because your fire will burn even the ashes, she wrote down.