white nights

WHITE NIGHTS HAVE long since set in, or rather expanded, a kind of blissful surprise and yet all portended and predicted. They have been here before and now are here again. As my friend told me in the spring when the storks had just arrived and their cries could be heard along the streams and in the valleys, if you live long enough you will see the spring and if you live longer, you will see summer. The only choice then is to live, because this is the very fruit of living here, the forests so rich, green and thick, they bring to mind the savage equatorial jungles. The day grows from both sides, one side touching the other, like two arms squeezing out the dark.

Last night I went out for a walk at midnight. One local was in the yard searching for her cat as her neighbor stood on a second-floor balcony talking down to her about town gossip. From each house in the neighborhood, lanterns glowed, mingling with the stars. It occurred to me that such sights are only visible in the warm months, the search for a cat in the underbrush, the sky smashed into bloody purples, whites, and light oranges. What a treat it is to hear music coming from a party, any party, to hear voices behind the windows and gates. People gather together, to reminisce, to shake, to dance. They make such noise, they annoy the neighbors who are trying to sleep. There is a ferocity to it, that rattled energy, those early summer parties, a stirring vibration that sandblasts its way through the moisture of the evening.

Outside a local pub, a beautiful blonde came out through the backdoor, hoop earrings dangling, clad in red billowing pants, looking like a suspect in a detective novel, or the girlfriend of a suspect, asking me what I was doing there and what I was looking for? Or was she so beautiful? I can’t even remember now. One must be careful with such words. Each person is an experience, a breath savored for a moment in the lungs. Each person has a story. Where does hers go? Back to the bar? Back to the party? Back to the noise and the bottle? 

I told her I was just looking around and was on my way. I crossed the street and came through the park with its macabre stone statues. Two Ukrainian kids were out riding skateboards and I listened to them laugh at each other’s jokes. Then I turned another corner and then the next. This was it then, the spirit of summer, the summer we had all been waiting for. At last, I arrived at the familiar house and went inside. She was already waiting patiently for me in the kitchen.

The next morning I woke up goopy-eyed on the couch, the day fully dawned. I had some name on my lips, but I couldn’t remember whose name it was. I couldn’t remember who I was or how I had got home. All the memories of the night were faint, and they had stayed there, belonging already to history. It was so bright outside. A neighbor was already cutting wood with a saw. “Where am I?” I said. My daughter was up and about and said, “It’s 7 am and could you please make some coffee.” There it was, another day. What would this day bring, where would it lead?

At the cafe, I wrote to a friend about the predicament of man. The desire had been building in me for days, I said, that white nights ache, and I was afraid if I didn’t find a safe conduit, I might burst. Maybe I had. Maybe there would be only more hi-jinks and misadventures. Summer was just getting started. I was tired of society, anyway. I was tired of restraint. I was tired of trying to do things the right way. The world had been overdirected to extol control and perfection, but I was hungry and aimless and the endless days were only making me more restless. Those wildcat impulses. That craving and yearning. Summer was calling out to me. It was calling me out to its suspect blondes, its backyards parties, and into its midnight kitchens.

Once when I was riding around with the naturalist Fred Jüssi, he told me that he thought summer was the most sinister of the seasons. It was a time when people lost their senses, he said, a time when they broke their promises, lost their good faith. He was right, I think, but I would say that summer’s evil is a good kind of evil, a necessary kind of evil. Sometimes you have to give in to temptation. Sometimes you have to let it all go. That’s the kind of evil I like.

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