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Summer Layers

Artwork by Rita Chen, staff artist

Mom once told me I would have been called Summer, and although the name “Summer Green” sounds like a drugstore nail polish color, I think I’d still welcome its warmth to my identity. After all, what’s not to love about the season? From too-cold pools to sun-drenched hair perfumed with chlorine, summer is a pocket of good feelings in the dull fabric of another year Mother Earth must wear.

However, with regrets to Her, my summer is all bundled up in expectations. Summer is layered like the peel and pith of an orange or the plot and pages of a book by the beach. Summer is complex and often misunderstood, and yet we wrap ourselves in it and let it lead us to promised serenity.

The pearls around my neck and the pony beads around my wrist point to the true glamour of getting prepped for a summer day. I started the hobby of making plastic jewelry and painting my lips pink just a few weeks ago now. A flowy dress and the sense that all will be okay washes over me like a wave from a freshwater lake. This is zest. This is the outermost layer—smooth, uncut skin and clothed unkempt emotion.

Below the sunburnt cheeks that I call blush, there’s an abundance of frustration tinted the same shade of red. While my brother will pretend to sleep just to party, I will pretend to party just to sleep. Just to dream and fall again into my job and picture myself on a lonely retail shelf, characterized by an outdated label and somebody’s fingerprints. I could be falling into a friendship that could clear the static from my ears or the stillness from my home screen. Could be falling into a fling that could clear the film from my mouth, cast a hopeless romance onto the silver screen. But here I am. This is my mantle deepening into the path of circulation, on its way to my core. This is the outer innermost layer—giving blood to the make-believe beneath heavy eyelids.

At the center of me, there is a fulcrum from which I find the impulse to run, to eat, to be the mindful animal of a human being. I strike a balance between daily routine and a stomach ache numbed by bananas eaten upside down. I have air to breathe in my berry garden beds but not enough space to speak up. Sometimes, I delight in my quietude, though I hope from this place, I can find the muscle to untie the put-togetherness I wear on the surface. This is my framework and sanctuary, emulating the weather of both one whole planet and one whole home. After all, this is the innermost layer—uninhibited instinct filtered through a tender heart’s toil.

So, yes, it’s summer. I might just cut my hair into layers, throw a cool jean jacket over my bare arms, or cut an onion and allow myself to cry for once. To communicate in full spate as if my words have finally ripened. I’ve learned something: We are more than our passion, an eyeshadow shade, a hobby, a part-time job, the time we wake up or fall asleep, the things we share, and the things we keep. Summer is layered like a kid suddenly on the cusp of 17. Summer may not lead to serenity, but it sure can satisfy the melancholic wish to slow down and be seen. My forbidden name, Miss Summer Green, is proof that things don’t always go according to plan. However, for the record, I much prefer it this way.

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