25 March 2012

The dark side of the sun

I squoosh you, stupid cheerful sun. 
If there's one thing that the grey, cold drizzle of winter in the UK does, it's that it makes you appreciate springtime.

As I write this, my little corner of southeastern England is basking in balmy(ish) spring temperatures, sunshine and blue sky. People are walking around with a new sense of relaxation and relief. It's not exactly sizzling temperatures, but I can smell barbecues. People are wearing sunglasses and venturing out a few layers lighter than they were a few short weeks ago. Flowers are blooming; trees are blossoming.

Spring comes with the promise of happiness and renewal – yes, all the clichés are true. It just feels smiley. Even if the rest of the summer is a washout (it often is) and/or there's a hosepipe ban (there often is), it's just a wonderful, optimistic time of year.

And so it has that effect on me. But it also has a strangely opposite effect, too, come the weekend especially. It makes me feel a little melancholy; a little lonely. I know – admitting to loneliness is a bit of a taboo, and it makes people feel uncomfortable. And it's not that my life is empty or that I dislike solitude. Far from it, in fact – I have friends, work is busy and I enjoy and actively seek solitude quite often.

As one gets older, though, the nature of friendship changes. Friends pair off, and have children, and move away to areas with good schools or countless other reasons that go hand in hand with being a grown-up. So, just by the way things go, you see less of them. Weekends are for couple stuff. For family stuff. There are few people left who are free for carefree socialising at the weekends.

You can get away with being antisocial in the winter, when you just want to stay indoors in the warm, when nothing appeals less than the thought of a cold wind cutting through you as you wait on an icy platform for a train delayed by snow. But springtime brings with it an urge to crawl out from our caves and reacquaint ourselves with the world.

And I associate sunny warm weekends with good times – lazy, slightly sozzled days in sunbaked beer gardens; country walks; days slipping into night on the seafront.

To underscore those hazy, pleasant associations, my last relationship bloomed with the spring and flourished through the summer of 2010. I think back on our relationship, and it's not through rose-tinted glasses but through the glint of sunglasses. Beer gardens in the sun; walking on Brighton beach; one day we both declared 'perfect' which was nothing more than a long walk followed by collapsing on the grass of a common and talking until the sun went down late. It all seems blissful, carefree, and bathed in sunlight.

Don't get me wrong. Turns out he later cheated on me with his ex and got her pregnant before dumping me, so I don't want him back. What I do miss, though, is that warm haze of companionship tied up inextrictably with sunshine and long days. I can't unpick the weather from its happy memories. Nor would I want to, of course, but the lack of the opportunities to make new summertime memories with friends or a significant other causes the occasional pang.

In this weather, I feel I should be out doing something, and making the most of the weather, but I rapidly run out of ideas of things I'd enjoy for long on my own, so I sometimes end up doing nothing, then getting a bit annoyed about it all.

Not that I resent the weather itself of course. It still brings a smile to my face. The hope for renewal and the optimism still stir, even in this middle-aged, scarred old heart of mine. Who knows what a new summer will bring…besides a hosepipe ban?

Image: freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Beautifully written and very evocative. It's got me looking forward to some 'sunbaked beer gardens'. And particularly, the 'days slipping into night on the seafront'.

  2. One word, Trish. Scotland. I'm just saying. We'd treat you real good up here, even for a few days :)