The air in Denver was still hot as I drove to the airport on the day of my first flight during my month dedicated to chasing summer. I always wear a sweater when flying, but the moment I stepped off the plane in San Juan, I was assaulted by sweet heat and humidity. I happily stripped off a layer as I waited for a taxi to whisk me away to the shores of Puerto Rico.
You see, I love summer. I love the way the sunshine burns my cheeks, the way my hair feels when its sticky with salt, how refreshing a cold glass of lemonade feels.
Winter terrifies me. Historically speaking, it’s the season in which I disappear. I slip into a deep hibernation where I shun the idea of going outside, rarely change out of my bathrobe, and shudder at the thought of trying to drive through snow. I’m from Miami – I’m just not built for the cold.
And so, I started chasing summer. First to Puerto Rico, where I spent five days swimming in the warm sea and following locals to secret street parties. I dug my toes in the sand while eating passion fruit frozen ice, bought a sarong, and cut my toes on sharp rocks along the coast.
When I flew back to Denver, I feared I would feel a chill upon my arrival. Thankfully, summer persevered – I was sweaty as I walked back to my boyfriend’s car at the airport. I was still safe from the impending winter.
Two days later, I flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. I started chasing summer in Barcelona, where I feasted on tapas and explored famous landmarks. I spent an afternoon climbing at La Foixarda, an old tunnel transformed into an urban climbing crag with everything from bouldering traverses to bolted sport lines. It was so hot I could hardly keep my fingertips gripped on the humid holds.
Summer continued to reign as I traveled from Barcelona to Paris and Valencia. I rejoiced every time I pulled on a pair of shorts, or tromped through cobblestone streets in sandals. It was scorching on some days, and while others complained, I celebrated what seemed to be an eternal season.
My final moments of chasing sweet summer were spent on the island of Ibiza. My father and I bushwhacked through thickets to find the perfect views of the ocean, and toasted our adventures over flambé and pitchers of sangria. I climbed on sandy cliffs where the rock crumbled beneath my grip. I explored a natural aquarium in an underground cave. All around me, the people on the island seemed to live in agreement that summer would last forever.
But it wouldn’t.
Eventually, my avoidance of the seasons had to end. I flew back to Colorado, cringing as I checked the weather forecast. Summer was over now.
But I still have my sun-kissed skin; I still have my little handfuls of sea glass I collected from the sea; and I still can hear the sound of the ocean if I close my eyes and pretend really, really hard. My wardrobe might be regulated to pants and flannels now, but summer lives forever within.