Summer PJ feels at ease with himself and his surrounds. His hair is longer and his skin is darker. It’s rare that you’ll see him wearing anything other than his swimmers. And a long sleeve linen shirt. His feet will be as tanned as any other part of his body. ‘Enclosed footwear’ becomes a distant memory.
He feels happy and free. It’s easier for him to engage in conversation. And to put away his phone. He feels more confident in asking a girl on a date. And very rarely will a day pass in which he hasn’t submerged himself in a sea of waves at one beach or another. The sand between his toes and the lapping water against his skin are the only psychologist he needs in this season.
Each day he will wake with vigour and excitedly open his blinds to assess the day’s weather. Slipping on that linen shirt, those swimming shorts and that backward cap, he will throw a towel in his bag and a notebook in hand before bursting forth into the day’s warm rays. Breathing seems easier with each breath much deeper than the months before. His shoulders are relaxed and he confidently strolls toward the water, double espresso now likely in hand.
Eye contact with passers by is comfortably met with a smile, nod and polite g’day. He feels in touch with himself and who he is meant to be. He dreams of a life in which he can live this life year round. A life in which these strolls are not interrupted by the need to return to a workplace mandated only by a requirement to ‘pay the bills’ and stave away the debt collectors from knocking down his door.
He dreams instead of these strolls being broken up by meetings at beach side cafes in which ideas for innovative businesses and world changing charities are discussed over a coffee or beer. He loathes the idea of needing to distinguish ‘work clothes’ from that which he loves most to wear on days such as these. He does not understand the need to wear a suit and tie when the job brief is to create an innovate. Surely this serves only to suffocate such creative energies from flowing freely?
Though surely these days must come to an end as winter encroaches. He checks his Instagram feed for when he was last able to swim the year before. It’s always far too early. As the days get shorter and the temperature falls, throwbacks begin to fill his feed instead. Often, he cannot even wait until Thursday. Scandalous. Friend’s in opposing seasons will invite him to travel, to hike, to swim and adventure. This year it was Colorado, last year it was Croatia. Though budgetary constraints have held him back of late.
2017 will be the first year in the past five in which he has not enjoyed a Summer, either north or south. He resolves it has to be the last. He poses the idea with friends of creating the means to enable such seasonal adventures to continue. And not just for a month or two. But to enjoy the freedom in which the ability to remain in such a climate year round is possible. Of course they laugh. ‘It’s not practical’, they say. He disagrees. In the back of his mind he knows the means it will require. He knows what he must do. He knows what he must build.
This year has been an important year for him. As he finishes his first tertiary diploma, a possibility and ability he had denied for almost seven years, doors have opened and his confidence has grown. A distinction/high-distinction average has fueled the realisation that he can, in fact, do this. All of those doubts he had on the quality of his work have began to fade.
There are still those that suggest and encourage a route of comfort from here but for him, nothing would seem more uncomfortable. He is a nomad. An adventurer. Never one to shy away from attempting the impossible. Until now, he has often not had the confidence in which to successfully take such leaps. But this has changed.
Of course, these words are written by Winter PJ. It’s July. And there are still thirty-six days and nine hours left of winter this year. But who’s counting? Too many warming additions have been added to his wardrobe this year. This frustrates him. But not as much as the comments, ‘Wow, you look really pale!’. He brushes it off, ‘Haha this is Winter Paul! I’m not designed for this weather!’. He will smile and promptly change the subject. But inside it hurts.
He remembers the time in Year 6 when his classmate Michael called him Snow White. And the time he intentionally belly flopped at the school swimming carnival to give his skin at least a hint of colour. And of course the many days spent laying in the sun by the pool at home despite all of the parental protests and warnings of skin cancer.
Today he sits in his favourite cafe, the weather an encouraging reminder of the Summer that was and will once more soon be. He has found the motivation to write again and to publish at least a snippet of his inner thought catalog. Though a weight of anxiety is still felt pressing down on his chest.
He attempts to understand this weight. Some days he will fight it. Some days he will lie about its extent to family and friends. This is not intentional. It’s overwhelmingly confusing to understand for himself let alone to explain to others. He will try and accept it. And will wonder if it will ever go away. He knows that it will. But it’s hard to believe sometimes. He remembers what his Dad used to say on the days he didn’t want to get up and go to school, ‘Feet to the floor!’. Some days this will take longer than others. But he’s always glad that he does.
There is the feeling that anxiety will always remain a part of his life. And that he must learn not to fight it but leverage the positive role it plays. He rationalises the pain it causes with the benefit it will one day offer. However, this does not lessen the level of pain felt.
He is a fighter, however, and he will keep fighting, despite thoughts at times of an easier alternative. Perhaps these thoughts now are a derivative of this seasonal discomfort? And that just as the seasons change so too will this perspective on present feeling? He hopes this will prove to be the case.
Thirty-six days, eight hours and twenty-two minutes.