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The Summer Solstice. 20, June 2012

Posted by Iphigenia in Memories.
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I’m not going to write anything actually related to the fact we’re about to pass the longest day in the northern hemisphere. It doesn’t really mean anything to me apart from the fact that for as long as I can remember, this is the time of year my mother starts complaining about the nights drawing in again. It’s a good while before we’ll notice we’re getting less daylight, but my mum will still voice her concerns about how much she hates the long nights. I’m not a fan either, but I also don’t like wishing time away! At least it’s not quite as bad as those people who like to remind you it’s six/five/four months until Christmas.

The 21st of June has some significance for me on a personal level. Two events that will probably always stay prominently in my memories have happened on this date. I don’t know whether that’s because they happened on/around the solstice so it’s difficult to forget the date or if it’s because the events had quite an impact on me. I suspect it’s a combination of the two. It’s also the fact that the first event was ultimately not a happy one and I tried to use the second as a way of making happier memories for this date. I partly succeeded but there’s no denying it, I can still tell you where I was on the 21st June 2006 and that it was a Wednesday even though Saturday 21st June 2008 is a much nicer memory.

The 2006 summer solstice was spent at a May Ball at the end of my second year at Cambridge. During my three years at Cambridge I only ever attended three May Balls, one per year. It was all I could afford and I was never invited to one of the big two. I know I probably missed out by not experiencing Trinity or St John’s but fact is I needed an invite (because the demand for tickets was high) and nobody liked me enough or even thought enough of me to ask me along. They’re allegedly some of the best parties in the world but I’m fine with having never experienced them. It just wasn’t meant to be and I’m fortunate I was in a position to go to May Balls in the first place, no matter where they were held.

2006 was definitely the worst idea. Instead of going to the same ball as my friends, as I had done the previous year, I went to the ball at friendzone guy’s college. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe I thought he’d see the light? I remember that I’d actually written a four page letter explaining why I didn’t want to see him any more and if things didn’t go my way, I’d plotted to give the letter to him at the end of the night. Things didn’t go my way but I chickened out. It WAS a reasonably good night if I’m honest. I still did have fun and I didn’t want to ruin it. As it turns out our friendship was on the home stretch. Two weeks or so later that was it, the end. I shredded the letter last year when I was clearing out my room in preparation for my move to Scotland. I’d forgotten I still had it.

The one year mark arrived in 2007 and I felt a little pang of sadness but as I was about to graduate I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I was too busy entertaining my parents and trying my best to ignore the fact my sister gave off vibes that she didn’t want to be there. My graduation day wasn’t brilliant, for reasons I won’t divulge.

For a while I thought the summer solstice was ruined for me. I thought I would forever associate it with an event that caused a lot of deep sadness and regret. I obviously didn’t realise that the thing about deep sadness is…it stops feeling so sad as the years roll past. You even stop feeling regret so acutely.

As luck would have it, around May in 2008 one of my favourite bands announced they were to play an intimate gig in York, near where I was living at the time. The date was 21st June. A Saturday. It seemed so perfect that I just had to take the chance. That band was Franz Ferdinand and they were still relatively big at the time so there wasn’t many chances to see them in a venue that held only around 200 people. I’m not saying they’re not big any more – but they haven’t announced another UK tour yet for me to gauge how popular they are in 2012. I have friends who still speak fondly of them and I live in their home city now (pure coincidence) so I imagine there’ll be a frenzied grab for tickets at the very least where I am now!

Anyway, the intimate nature of the gigs meant that for some reason the band or their publicity team decided you had to go queue up at the venue in person. No Internet tickets here. So I remember dragging myself into York for about 7am, being quite near the front of the queue at the venue while sending panicked texts to a friend based in York wondering if she’d like to come along. This was woven around texts worrying that I wasn’t far forward enough to get tickets. It turned out my worries were unfounded.

The actual night of the gig soon rolled around. Because we’d been at the same venue the night before and made friends with the doorman, he let us into the sound check. Originally you were meant to have special tickets for this, I don’t know if it was just us who sneaked through. After we were kicked out to queue up again and actually ended up right at the front of the queue – meaning that even after turning up quite late we got to the front of the gig, right in the middle of the barrier. I used to obey queue etiquette and believed that those waiting longest should be at the front but seeing as everyone else ignores those rules, I didn’t care anymore. It was time to think selfishly as revenge for all the times I’d been elbowed in the ribs or people had tried to pull me off the barrier or tried to trip me up during the rush to the front.

Anyway, some new tuned were played, my friend and I went crazy, my friend snagged a setlist for me and we got to chat to one of the band afterwards. It wasn’t the first time I’d met him but I was relying on his self-confessed bad memory because it would’ve been awkward otherwise, again for reasons I won’t divulge. I think I got away with it.

There was also a boy in the crowd who hung around for ages in the background and as it turns out was after chatting me up. I was 22 at the time and he looked about 17. I wasn’t comfortable with that! So I stated quite honestly that I wasn’t looking for anything at that moment in time. I wasn’t. I was quite happy having nights out on my own or with friends. I’d finally laid the ghost of the friendzone to rest.

So here’s to the fourth anniversary of an awesome night. On the 21st this year I’ll probably spend the evening curled up on the sofa with my boyfriend, but that’s not to say I won’t have more nights out in the future that happen to fall on this date. But, I’m also quite happy to have a quiet one every now and again too!