I hate summer. I know this isn’t really news. I don’t like the heat, I don’t like the tourist crowds, I don’t like the glare of the sun, I don’t like the humidity, I don’t like how it bakes the garbage and layers and layers of grime on New York streets to a nice crispy sour smell, wafting up and over me every time I exit the subways or a nice, clean-smelling highly-air-conditioned corporate store that I’ve entered for quick refuge. I find this kind of weather, frankly, oppressive.
On those bright, hot, sunny days, when everyone else is all smiles and tiny shorts and sunglasses, I harrumph and grrr and hide in the shade, or, better yet, in my apartment next to the air conditioner with a nice chilled glass of sauvignon blanc and a Buffy marathon.
Everyone says: “It is such a nice day out there!” And I so disagree. I complain about those days. I know it’s gauche to complain about the weather, and I am still trying to train myself out of that habit, but it gets to me. Plus, they are the ones who are always saying things like: “Isn’t it just gross outside?” when it’s 65 degrees and drizzly, which is my favorite kind of weather. No, I want to correct, it is such a nice day. A perfect day. Don’t you just love this kind of weather?
Butch wear does not go terribly well with summer, either. I know there are seersucker and linen suits, straw hats, board shorts, but I am just not as comfortable rockin’ the Southern-wear. I am a Northern boy, after all. File under: things I need to learn how to do; ways I should expand my wardrobe.
Having a car this year is making all the difference. Or rather, having access to a car, since it’s not really my car, it’s my other girlfriend’s car, but she lets me use it whenever I want. And she likes planning little adventures with me. So here’s what I’m doing this summer to try to keep my sanity.
I’m getting out of Dodge as often as possible, including a business trip to Portland, Oregon (Oh, Powell’s Bookstore! How long since our affair has been consummated!), a return trip to Seattle, Washington, where I spent my formative college years, and a trip—with my other girlfriend, Kristen—to the rainforest of Southeast Alaska where I was born and raised. I hope to get to Boston, D.C., and Philly again this summer, too, to visit friends and possibly do some work, like performances or workshops, and to remind me that the rest of the world and 65-degree weather does exist during those 95+ heat waves that sweep through this concrete jungle.
Could also be called “traveling more locally” but let’s be honest, it’s more than that. It’s getting back in touch with nature, with Mother Earth, with birds that sing in the mornings, with the rhythm of the sun, with building campfires. Even though I had no idea what car camping even was while I grew up, and I now fondly refer to it as “city camping,” I have a blast planning the menu, how much we’re going to drink, loading up Kristen’s Subaru (that we lovingly call the Pussy Wagon), and heading out of town.
We’ve got two campground reservations so far, one site I can’t wait to go back to and one that I’ve never visited because they always have a long waitlist, and I finally got in early enough in the season with my date requests. I’ve been investigating all the campsites I’ve visited and figuring out which site is the best, deciding whether or not I want to come back. The best, of course, are the ones that have been the farthest from the city, but those take the longest to get to. There are still some great ones closer, and regardless of how secluded, beautiful, or spacious the grounds are, it is always such a relief to be around some trees and fall asleep in a tent.
3. Day trips
Oh, yeah, baby! When I can’t stand this city, I’ll just wake up and say, “Hey! Want to go on an adventure today?” Then Kristen and I will load up the Pussy Wagon and head somewhereawesome, I have a shortlist of day trips already in mind, including but not limited to: the North Fork wineries on Long Island (especially One Woman Winery); Salem, Massachusetts; Bear Mountain State Park; Brotherhood Winery, oldest winery in the United States; and Kaaterskill Falls, the highest two-tiered waterfall in New York State. Got any more suggestions?
4. Concerts in Jersey
Nobody really tells you this as a new New Yorker, but when all the singers and performers come through New York, they also come through New Jersey, and often the Jersey show is better. It is definitely more intimate, not quite as huge of a crowd, usually smaller venues, so the chaos and overwhelm of the thousands of pushy people is lessened. Plus the performers seem not as nervous, not as intimidated by their Big New York Show, with who knows how many dozens of music critics, so their banter is more fun and easy. If nothing else, the hour or two drive to Jersey from Brooklyn isn’t that much longer than the subway commute into Manhattan, and I get to listen to good music and chat with my sweetheart the whole way. Way better.
5. Freebies in the City
If all else fails, I’ll stay local, and have a mini-adventure that keeps my mind off of the heat. Central Park Summerstage, Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park, River to River Festival, films in Bryant Park and under the Brooklyn Bridge, the Philharmonic, the Opera—there are dozens of free summertime activities in New York. All of which are adventures, and of course since they’re in New York, they take much longer than I always expect, so I’ll try to be smart about it this year.
As in, staying in my air-conditioned apartment all day, drinking lemonade and staying as naked as possible. And getting as sweaty as possible, and likely taking more than one shower to cool myself off. Plus, there’s always fucking in the shower. Or using ice cubes. Or cooling down a glass wand to play with. The gorgeous girl sharing my bed is a bonus.
So that’s it, my plans for surviving the heat wave of the summer. I even picked up a new pair of swim trunks today, with the hopes of a little bit of splashing in the water at some point. Add to that my co-conspirator, Kristen, who is willing to put up with my complaining and help me cool down and reconnect with nature, and a few new key pieces in my wardrobe, like another pair of regular shorts, comfortable sandals, and finally some sunglasses that are just the right combination of nerdy and slick, and I’ll be all ready to conquer the heat.