Well, that was a summer.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but my silence itself speaks to the extent to which I was devoting myself to non-blogging activities in my last few weeks as a New Yorker. Now that I am back at Carleton, it all seems a little too far and too near, at once an immediate dream that no one else can quite share or remember. Fall invariably brings questions about the break between two school years. How do you sum up a summer?
Here’s the standard answer I’ve been giving: “Summer was great, I was living in Brooklyn, I made a movie and a half.” This seems to be sufficiently satisfying as far as quick but interesting replies can be expected to go — because we ask this question, for the most part, out of convention. Does everyone who passes and says “How was your summer?” really want to hear about all the amazing screenings I went to at Anthology, and the array of interesting people and places I delivered programs or films or secret messages to on Anthology’s behalf, and the hours and hours and hours I spent syncing footage from a surveillance camera-based video installation in Chelsea, and the gallons of water I drank and then immediately sweated out within the confines of the set for Men With Arms, and the documentary on that very movie that I have been trying to collect enough raw material for? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong — at Carleton, I have SO many friends who genuinely would love to hear all about this stuff, and about whose summers I would similarly sit and listen for many an enthralled hour. This is a wonderful thing about the school I get to go to, and the people who go here, too.
But conversational conventions exist, and it’s good to be able to ask and answer the summer question in less devoted situations, like passing on the sidewalk to Burton or standing side by side in line for some sort of tofu dish at Wild Thymes. It just makes me think about how I am processing the summer for myself. When I ask myself that question, can I really yet put words — or rather, the right words — to the dizzying array of experiences that came at me? The palpable shifts in what I think and how I think and, perhaps, who I am or intend to be in this world?
In having about four days off before classes begin, I’ve been doing my best to do nothing. This has proven, as might be expected, pretty impossible, especially for someone like me. But perhaps when I tell myself that I ought to be doing nothing, I am simply fumbling for a way to remind myself that as I make this fairly significant transition from a year of transience to a foreseeable nine months of permanence — relative, yet pregnant with possibility — I should make some room in my mind and heart to simply allow for the processing that the question invites.
Tomorrow morning, as part of my grand scheme to do “nothing”, I will be riding either a metric or a English Standard century in the Jesse James Bike Tour. I haven’t decided which yet, but either way, I’ll have a good solid several hours to simply spin between cornfields and let my brain play passenger to the motion of my bike and my body across miles and miles. So if you’ve already asked me how my summer was, it’s not that I didn’t give an honest answer. Just ask me again tomorrow afternoon, and you may get a different one.