What Spelled Summer

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Dracula goes to the beach. Hoping to catch the salted wisps of summer vibes, the bats that are his sunglasses cast the horizon in a more pleasant filter. He listens to the cerulean high that is Alt-J’s Tessellate, and composes strings of poetry about the Bloody Marys and the summer wine. In the profound dusk, tango dresses and carelessly unbuttoned paisley shirts especially resonate to him. The idea of all-white somewhere on the coastal Italy, and reading Kaddish while your mates burry you in the sand, rekindles the desire to wake up before the sun irritates your dreams and hustle unabashedly with an iced coffee in hand. You and your mate do an atrocious impersonation of Birkin and Gainsbourg in karaoke, tacky neon signs and mates yelling profanities to accompany your half-assed French. Dracula is absorbed by the idea of himself in the summer, unsalvageable in any other season, but alive under the sunstrokes and the light-waves in the water of the pool. Yearly worn silk, slipped on in lieu of the heat and the fan that’s long since seen its heyday, offers illusions and promises. There’s still the offices and the airport cues to be in throes about. But you’re already phoning the tour agent, informing her about your summer trysts.

 

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Thursday evening windily brings me to a bookstore, where I have a moment of ultra-self-consciousness while doing acrobatic tricks reaching for Cortázar’s Blowup with a stack of books already in hand. I meticulously (and unconsciously) picked out literature best-enjoyed while under a stripped beach umbrella, or comrade-ing a cold brew in a very well air-conditioned coffee shop. Summer reading material. The transcendence from the workaholic act to the Jane Birkin impersonator was my cue that I was thoroughly vacation-bound. While the desire to run off in a vintage vehicle and declare vacation was in itself unsurprising, the resuscitation of the summer “I” was a pleasant novelty. It was a stick-shift change, a breakup with the sweater and a rendezvous with the denim cut-offs and silk shirts. Gainsbourg and The Strokes had nicely accompanied the revelation later, when the record-turn eased the humid day into a pleasant, New York night.

 

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Come actually summer, with its first tender words of freedom (as only summer can offer it,) I would reread Lolita by the pool, casting to Technicolor life Kubrick’s poolside hat-clad image of her. I would wear funny shirts, matching outfits to my best mate’s as we go to every music festival in the vicinity. I would appoint her as Bardot, and trail her red-headed figure with a camera at hand. We’d harmonise and do wrong, witnessed only by July winds and August nights. I would quote On The Road as we gathered, with our stupid group of ebullient friends, heading to Lviv and to no-good, in between train cars. My one friend, whose ageless intelligence was on a par with Burroughs’, would have a lot to talk about with me, rattled by whatever he has read and seen and lived between the last time we had met and now. I dream so much, of finally dipping into those very dreams, iodine-tanged Spanish coasts and candle-lit, ridiculous dancing. My sea-salt infatuation, seeping into my hair, had manifested into counting days and packing luggage. The plane ticket was already paid for, swimming somewhere online.

 

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My wrinkled leather bags would fit an all-white ensemble, a band of button-downs of every print and every band shirt. Silk dresses and high-waisted denim, no-brainer shirts and croc-skin sandals, straw hats and unused camera film. Polaroid, journals, pens, books, sunglasses and high-top converse. Ebullient at the idea of artistic Beatnik-revival, I counted days with the meticulousness of a metronome. In my mind I was in Europe, lounging in a straw chair, eating croissants with a straw bag at hand. Reality was not much worse, sat in a cafe on Prince street, typing frivolous dream-reel commentary.

 

– Alice Pylypenko

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