Domestic Disturbances: Seasonal transition disorder

I eventually adjust to all these strangers, but meanwhile, stay out of my way.

Suddenly, the beach, and pretty much everywhere else, is crowded with people. —Michael Cummo

At yoga class a few weeks ago, there were a bunch of new people. I found out later they were returnees from last year, but I didn’t know them. I’d only been going regularly (well, sort of) to the class for a couple of months, but I was bothered by these new people coming into “my” yoga class. They seemed loud and expansive, effortful, and busy getting down to the work of doing yoga. At the time, I was still in my winter mode, my interior time slowed down to the pace of winter on the Island. I was used to knowing (at least by sight) most of the people I see in my regular life, and that day I could have absorbed the energy field of maybe one new person.

As we went through the class, breathing, stretching, and letting go, I felt myself become more open-minded and openhearted, and my thinking quieted and came back to focus on myself. By the end of the class, I was feeling one with the world. We were all more relaxed; we’d been through an experience together.

That yoga class was a mini-version of what happens to me every year at the beginning of the summer season. Early in the season, before I adjust, I find the influx of even a few people to be so jarring — those people with their off-Island way of dressing and walking down the street, of gesturing – of being! I’m used to being able to get to places on the Island in a certain amount of time, but suddenly there are way more cars and people everywhere. It feels like an invasion of my home.

Since this happens to me every year, I’ve grown accustomed to this seasonal transition disorder, as I call it. I know I’m going to be mad at that person who is in the way of where I want to be, walking leisurely across the road where I’m trying to drive, being noisy when I want quiet. Just being there! I try to keep my road rage in hand by reminding myself it would be truly horrible to actually run over someone.

Slowly, as summer really hits, I start to accommodate the influx of people. I don’t spend so much mental energy being mad at having my home change without my permission. I plan the logistics of my days, I ride my bike more, take the bus, go to the beach early and late. Most of all, whenever I can, I retreat to my home base — my back porch, the island of Chappy, the beaches, ponds, and woods. I trade mobility for getting down with the natural beauty of the Island. I remember again how enjoyable it is to be outside the metal container that is my car. I again find that particular freedom that comes from being just in my own body, slowing down to a pace that works given the outer situation.

Summer passes so quickly. When September comes, the transition happens again. I become sad at all the farewells. We’ve been through this experience of summer together, and it’s sad to say goodbye. I feel a little lonely as they all leave. I used to question whether I should be leaving, too, but I don’t anymore. There doesn’t seem to be anyplace I’d rather live than here, despite its seasonal craziness, and many other problems we won’t go into here.

Now we’re in transition time again. You’d think I could hold on to the feeling of the previous autumn’s loss until the people arrive again the following summer, but that doesn’t happen. I’m ready to be annoyed all over again. At least I’ve learned to be more gentle with my angry self. I know I will adjust — just give me time.

But meanwhile, stay out of my way.