Hot summer nights, mid JulyLana Del Rey, “Young and Beautiful”
When you and I were forever wild
The crazy days, city lights
The way you’d play with me like a child
Lately, whenever I get home from work, I would sit down, still business casual, pull out my guitar and sing “Young and Beautiful” in the silence. It is that time of the year.
As I approach closer towards mid-July, the sentimental feelings that the song captures slowly simmer towards a boil. Singing “Young and Beautiful” in my bedroom is the only way for me to reclaim the memories that the sentiments that are attached to my memories. It is a way for me to re-live, and perhaps re-claim, the memories that have shaped so much of identity since. Because, although the moment lives in the past, the memory of the moment could continue to be replicated and experienced. I frequently find myself trying to reclaim the past through mediums such as singing “Young and Beautiful” in my bedroom.
I would fade into my life, and then, sometimes, I would wake up unaware of how long time has passed. It was June a few moments ago, and now it is July. It is the beginning of July, slowly transitioning into mid-July.
The air has gotten quite hot, especially during the day. I have my fan blow air throughout my room to counter the stuffiness. But, during the day, I am usually too stressed to feel my own sadness. It is only during the nights that I become sad enough to sing to myself. The fan still blows during the night because I have not turned the fan off during the day. I do not leave my room much nowadays, so I need the fan to to continue to aerate the room as long as I occupy it. But, during the hours before I go to sleep, which I consider to be peak sadboi hours, I cannot help but to reflect sadly upon the memories that I have no hope in reclaiming. And, in terms of sentimental value, there is none that exceeds the magnitude of “Young and Beautiful”.
What a rarity is it — happiness. Or, to put it more accurately, that which is not sadness.
It isn’t that happiness has been an exclusive emotion that I feel during the summers, however; I have experienced both profound happiness and sadness during my summers. I often wonder if the majority of my life, at least defined through my memories, is captured through my summers. Whenever I would listen to Spotify’s “Summer Rewind” playlist, I would truly be truly be triggered by the sheer amount of memories that each of those songs contains. In my “Summer Rewind” playlist, there is “Paris” by The Chainsmokers. Of fucking course. There is also “Firestone” by Kygo. Another classic. Don’t forget “Lacrymosa” by Evanescence. Yikes!
Someone that I had met awhile back had described his understanding of spectrum of reality as a spectrum of intensity in the perception of experiences. If I were to use his framework to describe my own life, then it would seem that mid-July is the time when I am the most real. It is the time of mid-July that captures the majority of my memories because memories, of course, are subject to intensity. In that sense, mid-July, to me, seems like a longer time period to me than the entire season of winter. Since I tend to organize my memories relative to their imprint on my perceptions, it is mid-July that takes up the most amount of space in the limited storage I have in my memories. It is a few weeks, but it is also a life that I had. It doesn’t feel like my life.
Mid-July is the time of the year when I feel I simultaneously exist the most and exist the least. I find it quite difficult to experience mid-July as I am experiencing it, but the time period certainly lives quite a while in my memory. In this sense, it seems to me that mid-July is more of a dream than an actual moment in time. I would wake up from mid-July as I would wake up in a dream. It would be December. Or January. I would be sad, as I am always, but especially when the coldness settles in. It is only during those slow winter months do I yearn for the experience that I had never experienced in mid-July. It is a moment that I have experienced, of course, but it is also a moment that I have not. The only proof that I have that mid-July ever happened to me is in my memories.
This mid-July that I am experiencing right now is one of the more sad mid-July’s in my life. I have already experienced the saddest mid-July that I ever will experience, and I have also experienced the happiest mid-July of my life. All of the other mid-July’s go somewhere in between. But, reflecting on the experienced that I have had thus far in the summer, I would guess that this summer doesn’t go into the positive end of the spectrum. It has been quite a sad summer thus far, from what I feel that I feel; I can never perceive my experiences accurately. Knowing myself, I have little idea if I am, yet again, just lying to myself. I don’t recall that my happy summers feeling happy when I was in the midst experiencing them.
What do I want in my life right now? Do I want anything in my life right now? No, I know what I want in my life right now. But what I want is not something that can be given to me. I used to think that mid-July can provide for me what I want, but it seems that lately I realize that I have put to much reliance on mid-July to save me. I find it funny that the nature of want is the fact that you cannot have what you want. Because, if you have what you want, then you would no longer want what you cannot have. In that sense, my assessment of my current condition is that I know that I want. I have wanted the same things for as long as I can remember. But I also remember that it is so seldom that I am able to achieve that which I want. My current situation, I’d imagine, is no different from the past. I will continue to want.
I wonder if why mid-July is such a powerful time for me is the fact that I was able to attain what I have always wanted to attain during mid-July. It seems like a coincidence that mid-July would provide for me when winter will not. I wonder what that is. Whatever it is, it has made me not sad, for a time. But mid-July has also given me insurmountable sadness. For those moments that I was especially sad during mid-July, I wonder if that was because mid-July often invites introspection in a clarity that had been previously inaccessible. I wonder if it was only during mid-July did I see myself clearly for the first time ever, and when I saw what I was, I rejected myself for the ugly creature that I was. I wonder if it was during mid-July that I accepted that I was not chosen to be beautiful.
When I listen to “Young and Beautiful” now, I feel old. There was perhaps a few moments in my life where I had felt simultaneously young and beautiful, and those moments passed through my consciousness so quickly. Sometimes, I delve into my own memories and question if those moments were even real. Like the song “Young and Beautiful”, they both are a representation of an idea that had existed or never existed. It is both a story and an image. And, when I perceive my own memories, I cannot help but to believe that my own memories are subject to fabrication. Is is the moments that I have reflected upon so often that I question if they are real at all in the first place.
What do I want to do now? I don’t know, in a larger sense. But I have fantasies of living in the mountains and slowly dying in the cold far from society. I want to wake up early and go to sleep early, like I am doing now. I want to eat unflavored oatmeal for breakfast, like I am doing now. I am the old person that I had always feared to be. This was not the self that I had envisioned for myself a mere couple of years ago. I remember, during freshman year of college, I wanted to be young and beautiful forever. It was the time when I had discovered “Young and Beautiful” for the first time ever, and I wanted to be young and beautiful forever. That was a mid-July in the past. It is a different mid-July now.
Did I genuinely believe that I was beautiful back then? Probably not. I would imagine there was a part of me that unconvincingly attempted to lie to myself, but I had always known that I was not beautiful. I was not young either, although I think I did not realize that to a lesser extent. It is the same now, I’d imagine. I am still not young, and I am not getting any younger than I was a year ago. I am still not beautiful, and I will never become beautiful because I was not chosen to be beautiful. This is and was the way of the world, but it seems that it has taken me at least mid-July’s since that year I had discovered “Young and Beautiful” for the first time to truly accept my ugliness. It is hot. It is summer. It is night.
Hot summer nights, mid-July.