On Ms. B and Aching for Love
It snowed, heavy. The kind of snow that covers the earth and leaves roads slick and me wondering if summer has ever actually happened and if it will ever happen again. I am a summer person. I tell this to my friends and family; I live by the beach, I am a summer person. Cause and effect. I wasn’t born here but the water, it’s so encompassing. Despite my attempts to meander into fall or spring, this life, this town, that godforsaken warm weather season has seeped into my veins.
My beach is a dirty beach. Last summer the sand was covered in cicadas, littered like clothes on a bedroom floor. When they all washed away, it was still dirty. The scents of sex and day-old perfume linger in the air all seasons. The water is filled with sewage and assorted waste from the nuclear plant down the street. Warnings are posted on every tree to "swim at your own risk" and I always swear I’ll never go in but still somehow I find myself wading up to my shoulders on a rare July day when it’s too hot to do anything else. I like to go so far out that I’m only a little blip of light, that the water soaks through the cutoff patterns of my jean shorts, curling them up and tattooing them onto my skin. I always have a farmer's tan in summer, no matter how consciously I try not to. That water is frozen over now and the path is unshoveled. I feel oppressed. I feel safe. I want to go back and keep inching toward the sun.
I had a teacher once who said I burned like a Southern girl’s first winter North. I think about her constantly, about those words and how my state won’t get claimed by the North or the South, how nobody wants the middle. Because of this, I have spent the eighteen years of my life trying to sway to one side of things, trying to corral myself. I am a summer person. I walk towards the big star. I wonder if when my old teacher looks up, she remembers me. My family listens to my findings and they tell me to go outside, clear my head for a while. The snow is fun, they say. I remember I am three in a family of five. A perfect middle. Passion, my teacher told me, is a burning that takes the shape of ice.
So: it snowed, heavy, and will snow again in a day, but while the roofs on my street melt into the first drops of this season’s baywater, I will at least try. I go out, letting the shoveled piles swallow me up. Farther, farther into the distance and suddenly I am nothing but a tiny blip. The snow melts through my leggings, freezing them onto my legs, and I think about what it might take to crawl out of this perfect dragging rhythm I have. Would anyone really notice? Would anyone really care?