There are a handful of photographs in existence that serve as evidence that I have, in fact, been to the beach. I’m even smiling.
I’m also about nine or ten years old in these pictures, building lumpy little sandcastles in the seafoam with my cousins, and blissfully unaware of the lifetime of hatred that would soon begin to blossom for the season known colloquially as “summer.”
Now, I’m twenty-four and I have plaque psoriasis.
In case you’re not familiar, the condition gets pretty awesome about two lines into its Wikipedia description: “red and white hues of scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the epidermis.”
Pretty sexy, right?
I don’t own a pair of shorts—the worst stretch of psoriasis on my body is on my right leg, from just below the knee to just above the ankle. Psoriasis is genetic and, though these days they’re developing some radical (read: expensive) auto-immune means of suppressing it altogether, is a lifelong condition. But! This isn’t a psoriasis pity piece.
My point’s a pretty simple one, but it’s always a little shocking to me how dramatic the varying reactions to it can be: Summer. Sucks. (For some people.)
For me, it’s the heat. Yeah, I’ve got psoriasis and don’t like to take my shirt off or wear shorts in public—salt water also stings like a bitch and makes my skin itch like crazy when it starts to dry out on my skin—but I also hate sweating, chafing, and shifting uncomfortably in my wet-ass underwear soaked with my own perspiration. It’s hot here in Texas, and once late May rolls around, I’m unabashedly looking for the nearest indoor, air-conditioned building. Not sorry about it. Call it “survival instinct.”
And you PEOPLE and your OUTDOOR summer outings! Um, no, I don’t want to go sit on a giant, reflective surface in the hottest part of the day during the hottest time of the year. Sorry. (But, like, I’m not, because I feel totally reasonable and justified in my perfectly sane choice not to prepare myself over easy.)
Let’s cut to the chase: summer is exhausting. Every minute spent outside is like ten in any other moderately temperate part of the year; a full day spent on Town Lake or trickling down the river is enough to sap my energy for another full day after. I weigh about 135 pounds and it takes me about ten consecutive minutes to start feeling uncomfortably warm as my body rapidly roasts in the Texas sun.
But, surely I’m not alone and there are just as many stories as there are other people who hate summer. So, next time a friend isn’t totes amped up about your proposed field trip to float the river or bum it at the beach, maybe she’s feeling anxious about the swimsuit aisle—and that’s okay.
Maybe she doesn’t like sand in her shoes, or maybe water genuinely makes him anxious, or maybe she never learned to swim and every year when the inevitable beach invitations roll around she feels the same anxiety about trying to make up excuses not to go.
You’re a vegetarian? Cool, we can order the veggie spring rolls, but I’m going to chow down on my Kung Pao chicken.
You don’t like scary movies? Oh, that’s alright. Let’s see The Heat instead.
Going dancing downtown isn’t your thing? Let’s meet for coffee this weekend instead.
I don’t have to push my idea of a good time on you. But GOD. FORBID. I try to weasel my way out of a “summer activity.”
I find the glowing, cheerful, bronzed myth of summer to often be just that: myth. Mostly anything I do outdoors when it’s 100°+ is going to be especially miserable, I’ve found. I try to be up front about that, but man, do I get grief for bowing out of “summer stuff,” even from friends that have known me for years.
I guess the part that also frustrates me is the looks of disappointment I get—the feeling that I’m, for a few months, somehow “less cool” because I’m not super psyched about summer and all the discomfort it entails. I happen to have a wide range of interests and love doing lots of different things.
Everyone doesn’t have to love the beach.
Not. Everyone. Loves. Summer. Is that so unreasonable?!
I happen to think we’re all a bit inherently seasonal. Myself, I’m hands-down an autumn-winter. I like dark clothes and jewel tones; t-shirts are only thing you’ll find in my closet that aren’t meant for the colder months I anxiously await (I’m way cuter with my clothes on). I like being able to see my breath when I walk outside, having to dart back in and grab a second jacket, the feel of freezing rain on my cheeks, a cup of coffee in the morning when I can feel the frost through the window pane…
(What the hell am I doing in Texas, you ask? I know, I know—I was born in the wrong region! I’m working on it.)
And, you know, point blank: I listen to people bitch about the cold and the rain and the wind and even clouds the rest of the year, because as far as I’m concerned, people who live in major metropolitan areas are entirely oversensitive to a little water from the sky and anything colder than 60°.
Go forth, be free. Enjoy your summer months! Live them up, get your sunburn and your tan lines and let your inner beach bum rejoice. I’m not looking for a license to gripe constantly for the entire season. But when I don’t want to partake in something taking place in the insane summer heat and I’m coerced, you can deal with the aftermath.
I tried to say no!