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I have always felt of summer as anything but a pang of longing. There is ordinary, intense longing for the commencement of summer, but when I am finally free to experience it temporally inside, I have found myself shuffling amidst emotional identifications that are sharp, resolute rather than dull like an euthanizing of sores. I am ecstatic to reunite with my home city, which stands for my family, my high school friends and sceneries that affect my worldview in profound, gradual ways. I am relieved that for a while, I don’t have to answer to assignments and paper deadlines, the academic tint being lifted almost totally. I am sometimes thoroughly bored because the obligations to be in motion are most likely kindled by an initiative to improve myself—be better—instead of an urgent imperative to stay alive, on the line, intact. I don’t have a summer job. I am not taking any classes. I am not conducting research. I may read as much as possible and write in the afforded gaps to the enrichment of my mind, or I may not.

Longing is a categorical emotion for the middle stage, the ambiguous in-between, the knowledge of being involuntarily seated on the ledge, There is a beginning or an end or both waiting on the other side. Longing can be seen as an act of indulging infertility, hence aversion or distaste towards such wanting without doing. Lately I have come to see how a sense of longing may actually be a distillation of a crucial part of my summer experience. Not because I am in a state of longing, whether equivocally or not. But when I think about relationships that will sustain till my second year of college, as well as people who are now on the indefinite brim of my social circle, I can’t help but harnessing an aching unclarity that resembles longing.

The people who are spinning out of touch somehow have me perplexed and troubled to a greater extent than those who stay and care. I can assert that the build-up for frustration is not of a desire to have everything, a longing for the largest, most inclusive, and, by some twisted logic, most tasteful slice of living. Rather, the vexation roots in helplessness that the fervent flow of reality tends to trigger within us. The middle stage that I am in is one of losing, losing as the fading of people who used to occupy more vivid colors from my life and losing as sheer abandonment in face of time’s ruthless erosion. The middle stage that I am in is somehow inevitable and expected.

Not long ago I wrote in my journal, Has anybody written about the permanent parting, the temporary pull-away, the reluctant, turned indifferent, drifting of friends&foes in the summer, or generally of people in life? Curiosity for me is birthed by confusion that transfigures into an imperative to wipe off the negative residues confusion holds me hostage to. I wanted to know what everybody else felt about the fact that the people who were so present in a phase of their life could turn strangers as they enter the next. I wanted to know if falling out of the circle—observing somebody else fall out of yours—is expected. To me, looking at how other people deal with a similar personal situation was indicative of the factuality—the irrefutability—of the hypothetically universal phenomenon.

I have sought out no writing till this date. A Facebook conversation is the second most serious attempt of mine at verbally grappling with the problem. The first is pitching this article and typing out these lines. I think it speaks to the truth that I have always known. I have always accepted that there will be people who stop igniting earnest, scorching feelings within me by time and life trajectories that veer towards an asymptote after the tangent. I have experienced and I have foreseen numerous incidents wherein the status of friendship morphs into a painful reiteration that two people now feel only failure at sincere communicating.

And maybe being confused is just a mask for being indignant. At myself. That I am silent against the distance and distancing. Or that the loudest noise I make to contrast the damping background is saying “I don’t know” and leave the insipidity to seep in insidiously. That I have not exhausted my muscles forging a bridge, let its infrastructure be however shaky. Maybe telling myself that I’m confused is a clumsy shorthand for acknowledging “I’m stupid”. I should act rather than entertaining these futile thoughts.

But I’m also fearful of the prospect that the people whom I want to keep around are those who must flee, in their right to flee and in the sage unpredictability of life. I am most scared that the people whom I love and care about deeply do not reciprocate my attention, and I am deprived of means to assure they will see the other light. All such tumults while I am also pregnant with a fear that the people I let slip by can have been the ones who matter, if they had chosen to stay instead.

In a way, the desire to reach out resembles the desire to speak. I am hampered by an imagined humiliation that results from over-talking whereas it turns acidic inside from a regret of not saying enough. Similarly, I am discouraged by the possibility of rejection, but choosing not to approach someone feels like being accomplice in inflicting harm on my well-being. That someone can have been a good friend whom I dearly need. A point of balance is difficult and likely impossible, and I am still working out the solution that is most worthwhile.

For me, in a situation involving risk, I am better off making the gamble, choosing to put one foot in front of another instead of stepping out of the line. The worst to happen is a vulgar manifestation of chagrin, and I have been gradually learning to fight it off with certain victories in the depth of experienced emotion and self-growth. Regret seems to pain me much more tenaciously.

And already, I have heard a voice urging me to pick up the phone and hit the send button below that email draft.

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the author

Chi Thuy Le likes to think she lives bi-continentally while writing out of Chicago.

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