This is what came to mind this past weekend, on a particularly languid Saturday spent peach picking with my family, wandering the space of a sun-drenched orchard with my sister and brother in search of the ripest, fullest fruit. We wasted no time eating the best specimens right on the spot, juices dribbling down our chins as we made our way deeper into the grove of trees, like pilgrims in search of the most brilliantly encapsulated bite of summer. It was an exquisite morning, flecked with warmth like smudges of dust on a camera lens. And yet, even as I was experiencing it, I felt as if I were looking through a viewfinder, hazy around the edges, watching a memory of something past unfold for me in the space of each bite.
A little slice of the past, sweet and full and lingering.
It was a morning that flew in the face of the vast expanse of this summer, a summer which has left me feeling as if I have been strapped to the cylinder of a rocket hurtling toward the gaping yaw of a future that does not feel like it belongs to me. I spent three months at my parents’ house, commuting into New York during the weekdays for a full-time position that I feel particularly blessed to have landed, even though there were some mornings where, plunging at breakneck speed into the sea of people at Penn Station, I would find my chest constricting in a kind of stifled sob. I have been very much a vision of the woman I have always intended myself to be, at least outwardly, zipped into a pencil skirt and toting around brown-bagged lunches with as much style and grace as I can muster at 8 in the morning. This time last year, as I juggled four different jobs to eke out a living, I vowed that the summer following I would find something steadier, and in doing just that this summer has been a marvelous success, a game-changer.
And I do stand by that.
But this summer has been a game-changer in other ways. That I often write about New York with a sense of ownership is an act laden with falseness when I consider that such ownership is shared, and that the New York of my twenties does not yet exist beyond the lens of the friendships I have experienced during my time at school. This has come sharply into focus in the past few months, the lens wiped clean and pointed into the distance at something just out of sight, as my friends whose graduation was this past May have grappled, bravely, with their own next steps. Some of them, some of my closest friends in fact, will be leaving New York by October. Their dreams, ripe and full and real in a way I have not experienced yet, are no longer confined by the streets of the city we came to know together. They will move forward, linger no more through Septembers spent lazily people-watching at the counter space of a coffee shop on Mott Street, past Octobers and Novembers of stolen conversation in between classwork and jobs, beyond Decembers spent poring over exam notes in winter’s waning light…
And thus it is that we are coming to the end of something here.
It is not lost on me that this reflection can easily morph into little more than an excuse to be nostalgic, as if I need yet another reason. But it feels important to stop and take scope of it all, now more than ever, in the face of my senior year, a year that promises to be a whirlwind based on the simple fact that it marks an ending. These coming months hang heavily with potential, ripened by three years of experiences that I could not have predicted when I entered college in the fall of my freshman year. It is tempting to dwell on the memories of the past three years rather than to move forward, simply because what lies there is so very out of focus. What I have to remember is that this life does not necessarily promise clarity at any point.
What is does promise is sweetness, sundrenched and meaty, satisfying and surprising, exquisite like an August peach. A toothsome burst of happiness that will linger just long enough for you to hang onto it even as what is in front of the viewfinder changes just as much as you do. At this point, it feels like enough.