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I’m told this vaccinated, post-pandemic (if we can ever be post-this-pandemic) summer is supposed to be a hot girl summer. But after the year we’ve had, who is emerging from quarantine still a girl?
Even Gen Z, of which I am not a member, is coming out into the world with mom jeans and crop tops, Birkenstocks and belly buttons, looks that say they both don’t care and that they do care, but maybe they don’t. I don’t know, just get off their cases, okay?
Instead, let me propose that this is instead a hot divorcée summer.
Hear me out. You know what’s broken? Everything. If we’ve lived through this year, we’ve experienced unimaginable loss. Loss of our jobs and our friends or parents or grandparents. The nation’s capital was under attack. Remember that? Airlines got huge bailouts, while our nation’s mothers are being forced from the workforce. And this is just the highlight reel. We are burnt out, overloaded, overworked, and under showered.
This is not a summer of pretending things are fine. Of going back to normal. This is the summer of calling this shit out. Of saying it’s not okay. Of standing up for ourselves. Of nuking our lives. Of breaking them down. Of letting go. Of refusing to hold it all together. Of refusing to smile and say, “He helps; he picked up dinner the other night.” When you and I both know he left a stack of dishes in the sink for you to figure out, even though you had two Zoom meetings and inexplicably it was dress-like-a-penguin day for online school. No. We are done with that. And it ends now.
I’m not the only one to have this idea. Vanity Fair reported that women are getting divorced then going “tits out.”
However, I am not suggesting that you, personally, get a divorce. Although, maybe after quarantining and working and managing Zoom school while your husband hid in the office, you want to. In that case, I do suggest you get a divorce. Rather. What I am saying is this is the summer of breaking. Of burning. Of shouting and yelling and letting it go. Letting it all go. What we are letting go of is the bad relationships, the bad jobs, the bad year, and the patriarchy. This is a time of having the courage to imagine something different.
Let me tell you what I mean. I mean that the other night, I went out to an event in my town. And there I saw the mayor, who failed to respond to a natural disaster in my town and left people homeless. I saw a businessman who, last summer, got outed for donning blackface. I saw an ex of mine who runs a restaurant that violated mask mandates. I smiled at all of them and gave them the finger, while sipping bourbon. I laughed with my friend as we remembered the last time we’d gone to this same event. Then, three years ago, I’d hidden under a table to avoid my old pastor, my divorce mediator, and two Tinder mistakes.
Now, there was no more hiding. I would take up space. I would smile. I would drink. I would wear a low-cut top and hug my friends. I would make a joke about nuts and say, “That’s what she said” very loudly. I would not care.
We are back in the world, but the world can go to hell.
It’s the summer of caring a lot, but not giving any fucks. It’s the summer of gentle ministrations to your soft body of survival. It’s the summer of grief and joy. A summer of knowing all we’ve lost but knowing how much more we have to live. It’s the summer of Natalie Maines’s boat. Of Jennifer Garner’s heavy sighs. And Jennifer Lopez leaning into the mess.
The summer of Kacey Musgraves tweeting “Legs longer than my marriage,” Kim Kardashian’s endless thirst trapping. Of the Melinda Gates PR team, absolutely dragging Bill and reminding us that billionaires and husbands are bad. Don’t fight with me, because you know it’s true.
It’s the summer of letting it all out. Of being a public mess. Of loud revenge. Of drinks with friends on the porch. Of crying to Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, and blasting “Gaslighter” from the speakers of your minivan. Don’t have a minivan? Well, you do have one, spiritually.
There are no rules anymore. Wear your leggings. Or don a dress with a sexy cut-out. You are sexy. So just do it. Get your groove back. Bare the soft curves of your body that held all the Doritos and late-night wine. The body that kept you alive. You are alive.
It’s the summer of saying goodbye to the Earls.
Men Yell at Me is a newsletter about the places where our bodies and politics collide and yes, the occasional yelling man. Learn more about it and me (Lyz) here. You can sign up to receive the free weekly email which includes interviews, essays and original reporting. The Friday email is a weekly round-up of dinguses, drinks and links. On Monday I have a subscribers-only open thread where we discuss politics and our bodies and more.