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Thursday July 18, 2002, 17:25

I have been reluctantly forced to admit that there is something resembling summer in London. Even more, I am even more reluctant to note that it is just about the most enjoyable type of weather I could ever hope to enjoy during the summer months. I have been assured that this is a fluke, and though the sky turned a cloudy shade of gray with which I am all to familiar at this point, as I sit out in the park with my laptop, I must squint to see the screen as the sun has decided, once again, to show its face over this city.

There is a woman walking toward me, her sandals in her hands. Cyclists ride by and I remember that most people out right now are returning home from work. The life of a freelancer is one of perpetual apprehension about landing the next project mixed with the overwhelming joy of being able to sit at home all day unless the desire is felt to go and sit in a park and enjoy the sunshine. I often wonder about the other people that I encounter during the day. Do they, like me, have a flexible work schedule? Or are they on a lunch break? Or are they simply playing hooky from work this one particular day? Perhaps they are unemployed, and wish to remain that way. And yet I never ask anyone.

At present, when I feel I might be most willing to stand up and ask any given stranger exactly what it is that they are doing out on a Thursday afternoon, logistics prevent it. Barefoot with a computer, shoes strewn across the grass with various detritus falling out of my bag is not the most convenient situation in which to go over to the couple making out in the grass whether or not they have just come from work, regardless of how appropriate it might be, which, in that particular case, it would not. I can think of nothing more intrusive than to be in the middle of an embrace and have a stranger suddenly standing over me, inquiring as to my work habits.

A cool breeze has blown a spider onto my keyboard. This computer is going to need a good scrubbing down when I get it home for all of the abuse I've given it today. The weather, though decidedly summer-y, feels very much unlike any summer1 I've ever encountered before. I suppose it doesn't hurt that I'm several lines of latitude higher than I've been in previous years and even though the days are getting shorter, the sky still has a glow of dusk heading on towards ten in the evening. I feel as though I am at a beach, sitting on a porch, feeling the day baking away as the tide falls away from the shore. I know that there are several hours left of sunlight, but sitting in the middle of this park, with only the vaguest hints of city life around me (including a helicopter and the rumble of traffic in the distance) I feel as though the day is winding to a close. Considering I just left the house two hours ago, this seems hardly reasonable, but time seems somehow compressed these days.

You can't escape from a city without leaving it. Sitting in the largest park you can still see buildings off in the distance, still hear the wail of sirens as they go past. I'm sitting in this park precisely so I can escape, so I can get out of the flat, get out of the same surroundings I see every day. But even the park is getting familiar. I am sitting near the same tree near the same path as I was a few days ago, and while familiarity does breed a certain sense of comfort, it also grows stagnant, and I find myself itching for something else, but what I am not sure.

For instance, I know I am not itching for the pants on that man who just jogged by. Large flowing pants, tapered at the bottom with a large white label in the center of the elastic waistband were a bad idea in the 80s, and are even more so today, not offering the retro appeal of denim while being reminiscent of everything that was bad about that decade.

It occurs to me, all of a sudden, that I might be content. How strange.



1. In the evenings it gets cold. I think I have a cold. This is not summer, though it pretends to be. Summer should make me sweat my nipples off.

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