Several weeks ago, I photographed a series of ads and editorial spreads from my collection of vintage Vogue and Bazaar magazines. What I love about this shot: the grainy ink, the true-red lipstick and the Mad Men-era fashion model posed poolside – the perfect summer muse. That day, she inspired me to pull my crumpled straw hat from its hiding place. I even went to a street festival and drank overpriced beer under a blazing hot sun.
What kills me looking at this photo now: Today it is fall. It is crisp like a Braeburn, and it is unmistakable. That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to this change. It’s my favorite season, and I’m squirming to break out my trench, cozy cardigans and the vintage gray boots that I bought for $4 at an estate sale last October. But there’s still that tinge, that trace of back-to-school blues that creeps up this time of year. Only now, there’s no excitement about new Trapper Keepers and roller ball pens. I wish there were. (And trench coats can’t fill the void.)
This past weekend, we hosted 14 friends at our cabin in Wisconsin. One final summer fling. It was, without a doubt, complete reversion to college–like the Big Chill, minus a funeral and several years, plus flip cup, a fire pit, Jens Lenkman and an endless loop of Eagles songs instead of Motown. Maybe St. Elmo’s Fire is more apt. Except that those characters were all vapid and selfish, right? Hmm.
And though somewhat regressive behavior is our group’s normal routine–it all felt more poignant this time, like one of those sappy movies about clinging to the past: 100 terrible cliches wrapped in one weekend. Fact: The once-endless stretch of time called our 20s, the era of irresponsibility and tequila passed around a circle, is dwindling.
(And now I pause to reflect on how I got from vintage fashion spreads to a monologue on getting older)
When the last of our friends drove away, the goodbye felt more permanent. We’ll be back to the cottage next summer, and they’ll join. And there will be sloppy games of Taboo and the same tired inside jokes. But will it always be the same? Of course not; it can’t be. It was a simple revelation, and one I had had before. But I do believe the brisk weather that morning provided the cinematic backdrop for this melodrama: We’re getting older….seasons change….and so forth.
I’m happy to kiss summer goodbye. It was fine enough, but like every summer (and every New Year’s, for that matter), it couldn’t live up to the hype: I didn’t enjoy any beach days, alfresco movies or those summery things I set out to do every year. Life intervened, I suppose. And our perfect summer getaway to the cottage? It was cold and fall-like — though no less quaint.
This blog is about style, not life — though it’s tempting to dip in to the personal. Still, I’d like to bring it back to Susie Sunbather here. She is, after all, my summer muse. Maybe she’s in Palm Springs, on the patio of a sprawling ranch house. She sips a gin gimlet between takes, draped in a Pucci cover-up. Avedon gives directions. The sun shines bright. And the day, and the summer, stretches on forever.