You were recently at a gorgeous, summery, evening event – the one that you will always remember without having it be named, for the food and the friendship and most of all, the jazz. There were people there that you knew, people that you adore, people that you would rather not have seen, and people that you had never spoken to.
Naturally, there was lots of laughing and smiling and poking fun at one another – lots of teasing and hat stealing and collapsing on friends and all those wonderfully teenage things that happen when a group of 30 or so youths collapse on the grass outside a school to a backdrop of jazz music, while various parents and teachers and general adults make up the rest of the happy audience.
It’s such a summery event, and so typical of the people you spend your time with, so laid back and comfortable and brimming with talent and smiles. It is the start-of-summer music event, the kind of end-of-school celebration featuring lots of saxophones and bass guitars.
It’s one of those anchors in time, too, for you. One of those events that you never miss a year of, and every year of it is so incredibly different that it makes me a little bit sad for the things you’ve lost and quite a bit scared for the things you will lose, as well as excited by all the positive change that’s occurred and full of anticipation for all the positive change still to come.
I think everyone has those events – those things that happen every year, not things like birthdays or Christmas, but specific events or gatherings that shouldn’t be as significant as they are. Certain concerts, or competitions, or school events, perhaps. Just things that stick in your mind like very sticky glue, and remind you every time they come around that time isn’t flying past without you noticing, and that give you a chance to really get your grip on life again, before you stop noticing that the days are falling behind you without you even enjoying them.
I don’t know what makes this event so important to you, but it is. Maybe it’s the people. The ones you spend your time with there and how they have changed – people don’t come who used to, and do come who never used to, and now you know people who were always distant before.
But maybe it’s the timing. It’s a start-of-July thing, it always is – poised at the start of summer, like standing on the edge of a cliff about to jump into the sea. It’s that moment where you first bend your knees to push yourself off. You’re there, you’re committed, and there’s no going back – but the jump hasn’t begun. Your feet haven’t left the ground, and behind you are the cheers of all your friends and the people you know, willing you forward and telling you that they’ll be right behind you.
But they aren’t always. Some of them don’t follow, they don’t jump just after. They don’t follow you on the adventure, and they don’t stay right behind you.
And at the bottom of the cliff, floating in the water, bobbing up and down, their hair all wet and their faces full of smiles, are the people who you’re jumping down to. You don’t always know them all, but they’re the ones who, whether you like it or not, are going to greet you once you take that leap into the next part of life – the next season.
I know which are the people standing behind you, behind me. I know what the flags that they have planted in the ground are, and I know which members of the crowd I want to follow me, and which ones I would rather remain at the top of the cliff – the ones I’m hoping I can jump away from for good, only to be seen if I turn my head around to reminisce. But it might not happen the way I’m hoping.
There are people who I wish were standing atop that cliff, too, people I wish were preparing to jump in with me. People who I’ve lost touch with over the last year, who I miss and am not ready to move on without. And yet they aren’t there, and I have to move on without them, and my heart is a little bit broken by it.
And as for the people at the bottom?
I just hope they’re good people. I hope they will be good friends, and good company as we all swim around together in the sea for a while, enjoying ourselves and our adventures.
The last time I jumped off a cliff, there was more salt in the water than I had been expecting, and I came across a shark or two that I hadn’t seen coming.
But there was also a display of some of the most beautiful wildlife I’ve ever seen, and a wonderful reef to admire from afar.
There was the unexpected – both good and bad. I was in the same place, but it all felt new. The view from the water was recognisable, but I was seeing it from a whole different perspective.
I’m not sure if this time I’m hoping for a whole new ocean, or something I’m familiar with. I have no idea what it is I want out of the near-future, out of the version of me and of you that is a few months older – and so I don’t know what to wish for.
But even if you do find yourself somewhere you’ve been before, I think you’ve changed enough lately that it’ll all seem brand new anyway.
Time is a thing that is passing very quickly, and it scares me – scares you – but also excites us. For some reason, summer always seems to change things. It’s like a reset button for us, and this event is like the preparation to press that button. To start the next bit of life, to move on from this year – this school year – and start again.
This anchor in time has passed. It’s been pulled out of the sand and a dent is left on the ocean floor. And now, my legs are straightening, my heels coming off the ground, and you, Mima, are so nearly in the air.
As always, with love,