the waiting is the hardest part

by s.

Summer hit suddenly, and we’re already deep in the heart of it, having run into its welcoming arms as hard and fast as anyone in love ought. I have already slipped into a uniform of shorts, v necks, and tank tops; I have already given up looking like a grown up and fully embraced dressing like Huckleberry Finn at all times. I have carefully considered the health advantages of becoming a much more moderate drinker, and then I have immediately been handed mason jars full of gin cocktail in the afternoon.

There are many things you can say about my health, my faith, and my lack of determination, but I will never be fool enough to deny a life that hands me mason jars full of gin cocktail in the afternoon.

That mason jar, you see, is a guide into the life you are meant to be living, where you walk lazily through well-mansioned neighborhoods and drink carelessly in the sunshine on other people’s lawns and begin to feel as though you are actually alive instead of just thinking about it. It gives you license to actively make more decisions: to have another drink, to tell a story you’d be otherwise reticent to voice, to stay out late, to drink a root beer and bourbon, to wake up feeling less than perfect. It lets you make mistakes, because the opposite of making mistakes is doing nothing at all.

A few weeks ago, I took a four hour walk on which I listened to the best chunks of the Tom Petty back catalog. I listened to Damn the Torpedoes and Full Moon Fever and Hard Promises, and I made some hard, fast decisions about my life because it was one of those rare occasions wherein a hard, fast decision needed to be made. I got sunburnt. I felt delirious.

Things changed after that. I changed after that.

And so, because it is summer and because I cannot shake the feeling that I am actually a real, live, breathing part of my own life, and because the sun continues to shine and beer tastes better and I have once again begun speaking in earnest about words and men and change, I continue to listen to Tom Petty. He begins albums with lines like, “Honey, don’t walk out, I’m too drunk to follow.” He courts women who are going to listen to their hearts, because the other option is to be lured by some dude with a lot of cocaine. He loves women for a long time, and then one day decides he’ll get over them. “It won’t take long.”

He puts on some Del Shannon, and he drives.

Summer is Tom Petty’s season, and it is easy to fall into his songs and this sunshine and think, too, that it is my season, that it is our season. It is the season where you get to be exactly the person you are and say everything you really want to say to people’s faces, and then drink a beer with them after you say it. Tom Petty and the weather make it absolutely acceptable – poetic, even – to say things like, “Honey, don’t walk out, I’m too drunk to follow.”

Something about that is very exhilarating, and it is that heightened sense of living that makes it very easy to throw on a pair of shorts and a tank top and walk into the world with your headphones on, letting Tom Petty narrate your existence for the next four months in the hopes that he will help push it from a place of possibility into one of happening.

root beer & bourbon

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