Issue #15 · In Pursuit of an Endless Summer
My greatest fear in life is wishing that I had brought a jacket.
Greetings from the stunning Mediterranean coast, where just like 50% of the other people you follow on Instagram, I’m spending the summer. It’s been a month since I arrived here in Valencia, and I’ve yet to see a single drop of rain, though there have been plenty of beads of sweat. But you won’t catch me complaining, as I prefer 85°F/30°C+ climates, and would choose sunblock over a sweatshirt any day of the week.
I arrived here after a quick trip to Stockholm, an abrupt transition given that the cute sidewalk cafes up there provide lap blankets even in the middle of July — not even a midnight sunset could offset that in my book. It’ll come as no surprise that my newly-relocated-to-Stockholm friend just booked a reciprocal trip to visit me here in Spain (hang in there Caitlin, just a few more days and there’s an oceanfront lounge chair and vat of sangria with your name on it).
One of Valencia’s many chiringuitos (tiki huts on the beach that serve drinks and tapas). Maybe my favorite thing ever?
A few of my other travel friends opted to spend this year’s European Summer™ in a less predictable fashion, trading the usual Mediterranean hot spots (pun intended) for Edinburgh and Estonia. The reviews have been mixed, citing fewer tourists and interesting sights, but a twinge of seasonal depression. So while I’m sure Tallinn is a beautiful city, it turns out that the Gulf of Finland just doesn’t quite mesh as well with that cute new Calzedonia bikini — so per my friend Molly’s advice, I think I’m going to save that one for a quick and cozy Christmas market trip instead.
But if I’m being honest, I’ll probably continue to avoid winter all together — a few months ago I cut it close, scooting out of NYC just a few hours before the clock struck December. I haven’t even seen snow since a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe in early 2019, and I don’t plan on changing that fact any time soon. That’s because it continues to shock me how intense an impact my environment has on my mood, motivation, health and happiness — I’ve touched on this idea before in A New City Every Month: An Experiment in Change, but after re-reading that piece, I realize that I completely skirted around the most significant underlying factor: Climate.
Now, let me take you back to November 2018. I had relocated to San Francisco, arriving just as California’s most destructive wildfire was raging in nearby Butte County — the city was completely engulfed in smoke the day I arrived. Welcome home, Em! Eventually, things reversed course as Northern California was blessed with rain a few weeks later. And then we got some more rain. And then some more. And five months later, it was still raining.
The Bay Area received twice the amount of precipitation than it usually does between November and March of that year — which was certainly a welcome end to the drought and fires, but selfishly, not a great time to be a transplant in a new city. But hey, spring and summer are right around the corner. Right? RIGHT?!?!
Summer in San Francisco...
— Jerold Chinn 陳景深 (@Jerold_Chinn)
Aug 3, 2023
I am a statistic. I am just another innocent east coast native that had expectations of moving to ~Beautiful, Sunny, Golden California~ only to find out about this thing called the “marine layer” that is embraced by SF locals and psychopaths alike. Every time that 3pm fog rolled in, I could practically feel my vitamin D levels deteriorating.
Worse, if you know anything about San Francisco’s microclimates, you’ll believe me when I say that my specific apartment on good ol’ Broderick Street could have doubled as the world’s most efficient wind turbine farm. Couple that with the 10-story Kaiser Permanente Hospital building directly across the street which blocked any hint of morning sun, and my bedroom was a frigid, gray, depressing little shoebox. One time I bought an $80 fiddle-leaf fig plant for my room and it died within ~12 days.*
I’m sorry but no, I don’t want to bring a fleece hoodie “just in case” to a July of 4th barbecue at Chrissy Field.
Dramatic storytelling aside, the cooler climate in San Francisco really did have an impact on my mental health. I felt lethargic most days, was unmotivated with work, and quickly got out of shape. Sure, San Francisco has it’s delayed Indian summer, and there’s nothing quite like being wine drunk in Dolores Park on a precious late September sunny day — but I decidedly need to live somewhere with a real summer, one that lasts for more than 4 hours a day, 4 weeks of the year. I am a warm-blooded June baby. I was born on the summer solstice and my greatest fear in life is wishing that I had brought a jacket. San Francisco was not my city.
Fortunately, I’ve since had the opportunity to test out what it’s like to live in dozens of other places, and I’m now much more in tune with what my brain, body, skin and soul crave — my happiness level is usually in direct correlation to the what the thermometer reads, so at the moment, I’m thriving under this daily dose of Spanish sun.
I won’t deny that a road trip to the Lofoten Islands, sleeping in an igloo in Lapland and hopping aboard an Antarctic Cruise are all very much on my lifelong dream travel bucket list. But for now, I’m committed to the pursuit of an endless summer, and at the first sign of autumn, you can bet I’ll be bolting out of Europe with a one-way ticket to as close to the equator as I can get.
* * *
*I was literally that “woman can’t figure out why plant that evolved to live in the Borneo Rainforest keeps dying in her studio apartment” meme.
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Here’s a list of every issue if you want to keep reading!
Issue #16: Embracing the Blank Canvas [Sep 2023]
Issue #15: In Pursuit of an Endless Summer [Aug 2023]
Issue #14: Follow Me to Weird Places [Jul 2023]
Issue #13: Self-Inflicted Social Overload [Jul 2023]
Issue #12: Schlepping It 🎒 [Jun 2023]
Issue #11: Finding My “Next Thing” [Jun 2023]
Issue #10: Book the Damn Flight and Just Go [May 2023]
Issue #9: Choosing Your Own Life Adventure [May 2023]
Issue #8: Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat [May 2023]
Issue #7: My First Month of Indie Making: An Honest Review [Feb 2023]
Issue #6: Ten Years of Making Money on the Internet [Jan 2023]
Issue #5: The Modern-Day Mission Trip [Dec 2022]
Issue #4: Ready, FIRE!, Aim [Nov 2022]
Issue #3: A New City Every Month: An Experiment in Change [Aug 2022]
Issue #2: Defining My North Star as a Nomad [Dec 2021]
Issue #1: One Year on the Road: Looking Back [Oct 2021]