imaginary outfit: one last day in the sun

A day on the beach in September feels different. There's a little larceny in it. Maybe it's just me - I only get a handful of days on the beach in a given year, and they almost all fall in June, July or August. I'd like to be there today. I'd like to feel that it would be a day out of time, an escape.

Escapes have gotten terrifically sophisticated. There are all manner of devices and distractions that can lift you out of the day to day - or even better, let you edit and re-imagine your day into something simpler or more beautiful. I can assemble this outfit, manufacture a story to go with it, and not only lift myself out of my regular life, but help other people escape too. Their hypothetical escape helps mine, adds a different dimension of pleasure to it. We collude together to step outside reality, just for a moment.

In the past week, I've gotten three emails from friends all saying that they are 'dreading' this fall. Dread is a heavy word. It struck me as unusual that all three - unrelated, unknown to each other - would choose it, but it's the right word. I feel a dread too, and that's strange for my favorite season. I realized it's been nagging at me all summer, peeking out behind bright things. I'm worried about the world. In itself, there is nothing new about that - I think I've been worried about the world since I was three and a half and learned what an endangered species was. This worry is different. I have the curious half-sense of living through a time that eventually will reveal a terrible pattern. Most of my brain thinks this is crazy. Riots in London, nuclear meltdowns in Japan, mass unemployment, half-forgotten wars, revolutions, floods - remarkable, but the normal chaotic stuff of human life, fully sortable into any number of configurations by future historians. Still, somewhere in the vault, I hear a bell, and I don't know what it means. Maybe it's just time - I'm older, and the future looks more like a crapshoot than an inevitability.

All this just to say my normal escapes are losing some of their potency. The pretty, shiny world of the internet, of blogs, is still pretty, still shiny, but it feels suddenly flimsy, slipshod. A day at the beach is just a day at the beach. It's not enough to keep the dread away. I feel a bit helpless. No matter what comes, good or bad, I know I'll need to be able to find the beautiful, the strange, the odd and funny things that create those exhalations of wonder that make me feel the marvelous edges of life, but I wish I had a language of more, the capacity to build something bigger and stronger, more brilliant or thoughtful. A better fence. Not just for me, but for you, too. Whoever you are, reading this, I want you to have that stolen day by the sea, in green sweaters and sun hats. I wish I could give you something perfect.