Summer is the Memories of Discontents

This is Part II of a four-part series in English on my pontification on the four seasons.  日本語の四季シリーズの第一弾はこちらです。

There is only one good thing about the summer, and it’s that it is followed by the most pleasant season of the year.

I was born in August, right in the smack of the summer, no doubt on a hot, humid and miserable day. My mom always wonders why I hate so much the season in which I was born, and my guess is that I was forever traumatized by experiencing at birth the worst of what this world has to offer. Coldness is something you can deal with by putting on more clothes and putting on a cap to keep you warm. There is nothing I can do about the heat of the summer. I can strip naked, take a cold shower, and it still won’t change the fact that I’m always hot.

I’ve exacerbated the problem by moving to Tokyo, where the humidity turns the miserable into the unbearable.  Once the rainy season ends, whenever I leave the comforts of an air-conditioned indoors, I’m forced to suffer through sauna-like conditions and the immediate sweating that accompanies it.  It is a disgusting way to go through a day.

I digress, but as I was growing up in New Jersey, I used to think that Japan was quite an unpleasant place to visit, let alone live.  Then I spoke to a friend about what it is like in India, then I personally visited China and Taiwan in early May.  After learning that there are places where the summer is far worse than Tokyo, and that those locations are concentrated in Asia, I came to the conclusion that Asia, in general, is not a place where human beings should have ever settled.

Just like the spring, what makes the summer doubly miserable for me is how excited most other people are about the season.  I suspect most people associate summer with vacation and all the fun things that go with it.  I associate it with fatigue.

That I’ve always had may come as a surprise because a majority of my life has been spent as a student in the United States where summer vacation–that time when school, the sole responsibility of a child, is off–ranges anywhere from two to three months.

But  the problem with the summer is precisely that it is too long.  A couple months is an insanely long period of time, so long that I (or my parents) always felt compelled to make sure I was doing something.  So if I wasn’t going to summer camp for two months, I was going to summer school, which as years went on turned into summer internships.  However rewarding those experiences may have been, I wouldn’t describe those days in which I was running around doing something as relaxing.

For a brief moment one recent summer, there was a period in which I actually managed to do nothing.  And when I say nothing, I am being quite literal.  For a stretch of three days, I spent my entire waking moment in front of the TV, in the downstairs basement, where it was indescribably (and naturally) comfortable.  During that time, I reached the depth of humanity: I was too lazy to eat, drink or even sleep, each of which would have required me to get off the couch and go upstairs.  By the fourth day, I was so filled with self-hate that I found something to do outside not only of the basement, but also from my home that had air conditioning.  I think it is a borderline sign of insanity that I couldn’t keep the act of nothingness, in comfort, going even for one week.

It’s true that now that I’m a working professional, summer isn’t the same as it was when I was a student.  After all, I’m now spending most of my day (perhaps far too long) indoors, in the relative comfort of an AC.  Perhaps I’ve continued to resent the summer season for all the exhaustion it caused during my younger days.  On the other hand, I’ve been out of school for a couple years now and I still don’t see what makes the season so special.  One day, maybe, someone will tell me all the wonderful things about the summer.  Until that day comes, I’ll continue to suffer through the miserable days of June, July, August and (now that I’m in Tokyo) September.


2 Responses to “Summer is the Memories of Discontents”

  1. 1 Caitlin June 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    San Francisco summers have scant in common with summers elsewhere. Marked by billowing white fog, the majestic product of sea spray, wind and Central Valley heat, San Francisco summers are characteristically overcast and cool, while the marine layer usually burns off by the afternoon. By late August, however, the fog thins and produces the iconic white finger of white pouring through the Golden Gate Bridge, rolling over Treasure Island and splaying against the Berkeley and Oakland hills, missing much of San Francisco altogether.

    I enjoy doing nothing but watch TV for up to a day, depending on how stressed out I’ve been. And then I start to lose my shit. I think a combination of productivity–especially if it’s regarding a hobby or something else important to me–and book/TV time is the best.

    • 2 joesas June 23, 2013 at 12:19 am


      Thanks for reading this awful post and taking the time to comment, although even I don’t think that it was worthy of a response!

      You described the summer so beautifully in one sentence that I’m tempted to go there and see what it’s like to see if my views about the season will change, then I remembered it’s SF and it probably won’t suit me in other ways. I really want to experience a “cool” summer for a change…

      Yep, I can only take nothingness for a day, too. I have so much I want to do recently that I don’t think I’ve had days like that since I’ve come out to Japan! It’s a good thing, I think!

      Hope all is well with you…

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