I've been sick with a spring cold for the past two weeks. Ugh! It's no fun being ill when the sun's out and the fields are green, I'll tell you that much. Due to being sick, I've been on some pretty heavy-duty meds... my steps have been rather shaky, and my mind has been flying. Early this morning, a little after I had taken a sip of my head-spinning cough syrup, I had a crystal-clear thought about my summer clothes, which I took out of storage yesterday. Pretty clothes, pretty prints, pretty colors... and as I packed away some of my heavier knits and wool trousers, it occurred to me that it was almost as if I was bringing forth someone else's clothes entirely.
The mind-blowing thought I had this morning was the Achilles' heel. I thought, and it made perfect sense to me at the time, that every wardrobe has its Achilles' heel. It might be the lacking of a perfect black dress, or not knowing the colors that suit you. It might be the attempt to wear clothes that would suit someone else's style, it might be clothes that are the wrong size. The Achilles' heel of every wardrobe is the stuff that for whatever reason doesn't make sense. My Achilles' heel is summer clothes. I don't know if you guys have noticed, but I write about summer clothes every year. Usually it's about me feeling uncomfortable having to expose skin and my bony arms, or just the general confusion that takes me over every year as I try to dress for warm weather. The moment of clarity I had this morning was everything to do with summer and a bunch of false expectations.
The Finnish summer is short. It's beautiful, almost painfully so, but it is so short that one starts to grieve its passing when the season hasn't even landed yet. The water in the lake is too cold to go for a swim, and my mind is already preparing to the moment when the lake freezes over. Us Finns start thinking about summer in January. It's the new year, and soon (I'm using the word in relative terms here) spring will come. The snow will melt. The birds will come back. Summer is months away, but we start looking forward to it. You can see it in Finnish style blogs: there is snow on the ground, and Finnish bloggers post inspiration pictures of what they hope to look like in July. They imagine hot nights in August, walking barefoot on the beach, with the wind in their hair. They talk about finding their inner hippie-chick. And when summer comes, it's over before it even begins. Perhaps they find a day or two when they are able to wear their summer gear. Those are the days when pale-as-ghost (or super-fake-tanned) Finns pile on all of their summer best at once, hit the streets, and look... just strange. They look somehow out of place, those summer Finns. It's like they were getting ready for a fancy ball and wound up at the karaoke bar. They have to lug a cardigan around, just in case.
As I was going through my summer clothes in the storage, it hit me that I've been one of those Finns who've bought into the idea of summer, that the summer me is somehow different, more free, more at ease, that my clothes could reflect that. I've assumed that I transform into a different type of person, the summer version of myself, when it's warm and green and sunny outside. My summer clothes are someone else's.
Don't get me wrong. I really like my summer clothes. They are pretty and nice. But they are very different from my other clothes. I've bought them for "the moment when....", not for the person I am. But I'm not sure if that's a bad thing. After all, we often make decisions in life based on our hopes and dreams, not our reality. It would be truly sad if we couldn't hold onto the idea of summer, even if it never fully materializes. The rational part of my brain thinks that it's not right to have clothes one can't really wear. It's almost the same thing as buying a pair of jeans too small, hoping that one day you'll fit in them. But the other part says that I must be able to dream of that perfect summer night, when I'll be able to wear a long, flowing silk dress, run on the fields, heading into the sunset that will never be, without the mosquitoes eating me alive.
Okay, so I don't have a conclusion to all of this. That moment of clarity is long gone, and here I am, waiting for that perfect day in July so that I can wear my all-too-many pretty summer clothes. And if it doesn't get warm, I guess a girl can always layer.
One more thing before I go: I have an interesting blog to recommend. Remember my "Sustainable style"-posts from two years ago? Deb got in touch with me about those posts a while back. Her world went all topsy-turvy since that garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed. She's blogging about it at Bonfire for Humanity. And yes, she's actually gathering a pile of clothes to burn as a protest. The girl's got guts, and before you say that burning sweatshop-made clothes is way too extreme for your liking, go read her blog!