A Dedication to My Summer

“Let every vessel pitching hard to starboard / Lay its head on summer’s freckled knees”        –The Decemberists

The mourning period is over.  It’s time to let go and celebrate the summer; to embrace the changing of the season.  Sure, there’s a part of me that wishes it were still July.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I had three incredible months.  And despite all of the pouting I’ve done recently, those experiences will stay with me.  So on that note, I dedicate my summer to…     

A Big Yellow Patchwork Quilt

I spent more than my fair share of time at Barton Springs Pool this summer, and I made my first foray to Deep Eddy one happy Thursday afternoon as well.  As Texas trudged through yet another draught (honestly, it feels like we’ve been in a draught since I moved here), I found refuge in the freezing-cold water.  Barton Springs is a literal oasis in a burning wasteland.  I tore through bottles of sunscreen, and became accustomed to filling my nalgene bottle to the brim with ice cubes before heading on my merry way to the Springs.  I learned the tricks:  Bring a Frisbee and put my water and chapstick-with-sunscreen underneath to slow the melting process.  Move to the shade now and then.  Bring a good friend, a good book, my journal.  Maybe all three.  Oh, and leave your cell phone at home…It turns out those things overheat when it’s 108 degrees. 

But best of all, I dragged my big yellow patchwork quilt to every visit.  It provided cushion against the hard ground; an easy way for people to spot me; space to stretch out; extra coverage for water bottles and cell phones; and plenty of surface area for friends to join me. 

Beer (and wine, and margaritas…)

Maybe this reflects poorly on me, but I drank a lot this summer.  Sure, there were times when it was to excess, like in the Showdown Town Hunt on 6th Street, but for the most part it was a glass of wine at Apothecary with Allison during happy hour, or a spicy melon margarita at Spiderhouse with Sheila for my birthday.  I got in the habit of bringing sixers to my summer league games…and enjoying several after the carpool home. 

While I’m a little uncomfortable talking about just how much alcohol I consumed, I also have to cut myself some slack.  Because it wasn’t so much the alcohol as the relationships.  My friends and I don’t need alcohol to enjoy each others’ company, by any means.  But I had many an important conversation—with some very important people in my life—over a beer or two this summer.   (Or a margarita, or a glass of wine…)

My White Compression Shorts

Yes, that’s right, I’m dedicating my summer to a pair of Underarmour.  (And not only because I actually wore them downtown one fateful night a few months ago.)

Really, this is just a fancy way of saying that Ultimate was a huge—and I mean huge—part of the last three months.  It kept me sane when my head was spinning with questions and anxiety.  It made me sweat out the ugliness and the fear.  It kept me physically healthy and gave me a group of peers to laugh with as we pounded ourselves into the grass.  It’s silly to think that chasing a piece of plastic could be so therapeutic, but the sport gives me an outlet; it provides camaraderie and competition; it’s central to my experience in Austin, and it served as a touchstone through a summer filled with change and uncertainty. 

As the summer careened ever closer last spring, the Austin Ultimate community organized women’s scrimmage nights.  Those Monday night games got me through the last months at my old school.  And then, just as my summer was beginning, my own team began practices and I met a whole new group of high-energy, quick-to-laugh, hard-working women.  I left our first practice feeling like I was discovering an entirely new level to my summer.  And that’s how it continued, with practices that ranged from challenging, to painfully sweaty, to dirty and dark.  But I knew that I could count on those Wednesday-night dates where I’d sweat through fatigue and frustration to find calm.


I could easily say that I dedicate my summer to Greek yogurt and granola, too, because the combination of the three was pretty much my favorite dish over the summer.  Who cares that the yogurt is as high in calories as a burrito?!  It’s delicious. 

I’m not a vegetarian, but I may as well have been this summer.  I spent so much time eating on the run, and so much time in the sun and heat, that all I ever wanted to eat was something cold and raw.  This summer’s chilled, fresh strawberries were the perfect fit.  And in many ways, the summer itself was the same way:  sweet and short-lived.

My Birthday Magic 8 Ball

Months back I wrote about the questions swimming around in my life right now.  Some of those questions have been answered, and others still hang like Chinese lanterns—fragile, beautiful, and a little bit ominous.  Allison bought me a Magic 8 Ball for my birthday following that post, and it’s sitting on my dresser right now.  And yes, I still occasionally shake it up and ask it questions, both silly and serious.

Just last night I said that I’ve finally made peace with not having all of the answers.  I’m not sure how I found that sense of calm in the storm, but this summer’s barrage of uncertainty didn’t rattle me in the way that it may have before.  Or in the ways that I expected it to.  Instead, I let the questions wash over me.  I snuggled up with them.  Do I still want answers?  Well, sure.  But I’m almost—almost—prepared for the likelihood that I won’t find them.  That I’ll just have to make up my own.

My New Boots

Just before the start of the summer, Tessa came to town and we paid a visit to Allen’s Boots on South Congress.  She fell in love with a blue-and-brown pair, and I with a brown-and-red.  I exercised some self-control and didn’t buy them that day, but they haunted me for months.  I’d put on a skirt and think, “Damn, those boots would look great with this outfit.” 

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I felt pretty good about myself this summer.  And don’t cowboy boots just holler confidence?  So about halfway through the summer, I broke.  I made a return trip to Allen’s and bit the bullet.  And I wore them that very night.  And the next.  And three days after that.

The boots will last, and I know that I’ll get a lot of wear out of them.  But I chose to include them in this post because they represent the way that I feel about myself right now.  I’m a little beat up and a little weathered.  I’m not always in control, and in fact I’m sometimes a little out of control.  Especially lately.  But I like myself, and I’m hoping that it shows.  I’m strong and sturdy—even more than I ever realized—and I walk with a swagger.  I’m determined to keep that swagger, that sway, even when the summer is long past.