I like seasons, perhaps because where I grew up there only two (rainy, dry) and other than the ongoing prospect of tropical storms or hurricanes that mostly and mysteriously seemed to ravage other islands in the region, there wasn’t much to distinguish the two in practical terms.
Then I moved to a place with much clearer delineations, one that required expertise in and the acquisition of entirely different types of clothing and shoes, one that taught me what “seasonal depression” meant but not how to deal with it. I kept moving to and living in those places, and now I have and understand the clothes and the shoes and the lamps and the coping mechanisms.
From my cousins in Germany, the ones who kept their house heated to tropical levels and had a sauna in the yard and calypso playing in the evenings, I learned about layering, and the importance of very good socks, and about not going outside in the middle of winter with wet hair. They bought me my first proper winter jacket and my first proper pair of boots. I still have the jacket, I donated the shoes.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing” - a phrase I first heard uttered by a brilliant Jamaican friend who also had to learn about the clothes and the shoes and the coping, and whose strategies for the latter involved raucous house parties that lasted into the wee hours, parties that inevitably featured home-made jerk chicken that he had marinated overnight, seemingly infinite quantities of Appleton Estate, and loud loud dancehall music. I remixed that combination (pelau, scotch and coconut water, soca) and kept the part about the wee hours.
From Phil, who was endlessly amused by us weather tourists having been raised on an entirely different kind of island, I learned about coats-as-statement and not merely as inevitably drab protection from the climes. He had so many coats, and he loved wearing them, and he knew exactly how to wear each. Fashion as armour, fashion as identity, fashion as surviving and looking dashing as all hell while doing so.
Perhaps I like seasons because I like marking the passage of time. Or perhaps it is because through them I learn more about my friends, more about my family, more about myself.
There are weeks that pass in haze and there are weeks that redefine the world and sometimes those weeks all feel the same.
Is there aught you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo! I have flung to the East and West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast,
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of duty, the sabres of doom.
Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands,
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
They are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France.
— from The Gift of India by Sarojini Naidu
Friendvertisement: The Clamor of Ornament & The Power of Adornment | Happening on Wednesday, September 14 at 5.30pm ET via Zoom
Veronica Chambers, multi-hyphenate / genius, in conversation with:
Professor Martha S Jones, a historian whose specialty is Black women and voting rights
Dr. Michelle May-Curry, director of Humanities for All and lecturer at Georgetown University
Dr. Yao-Fen You, a curator and acting director for the Asian Pacific American center at the Smithsonian.
“Chambers, Jones, You and May-Curry will explore how ornament, pattern and color have been a language in their individual work and the ways it has and continues to shape power and possibility, on and off the page.” Register | Learn More