On an afternoon walk

photo of a flower at the UC Berkeley botanical gardens
David McAllister/Senior Staff

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There are some days in the summer when the dryness and the heat combine in the most exquisitely melancholy way, making you acutely and painfully aware that life could be sweeter than a stolen peach. There’s a sense of warmth and freedom in the air that envelops Berkeley in those days, especially if you look down at it from above.


I was walking toward the Rose Garden on Euclid Avenue on one of those days. I was almost there, almost at the preceding intersection when I spotted a car — a convertible turquoise Mercedes that looked like it was pulled straight from a movie about the 70s (or 60s — to be honest cars are not a strong suit). I think it was the combination of the weather and the car that compelled me.


The roof was open and I decided to climb into the car; I was careful not to clip my foot on the door, nor to set it down too heavily on the pale leather seat so as not to leave a stain: evidence of my entering. To my surprise, there was no key in the ignition; it would have felt right. I frowned to myself. After some rummaging, I did eventually find it in my pocket. You, reader, know about as well as I do how it got there. Whether it seems to you that it had always been there, that it was floated into my pocket by the summer air a mile earlier or whether you have no clue and just decided to run with it, I am right there with you. In the same car, if you will.


There is an air that feels like nothing, absolutely nothing. If you try to reach out from the window of a moving car and grab at it, you will come up empty, holding less in your hand than when you stuck it out. Yet, in all its other aspects, it carries all the days you spent at the lake at the height of summer, all the joy you’ve ever felt riding down the steepest hill in your neighborhood in late August and your own laughter at your dropped, melting scoop of lemon sorbet, as your friends try to cheer you up, but you know that you have just enough cash left from what your parents gave you to buy another.


It was this air that hit me over the windshield of the convertible; I found myself wishing for a headscarf, some 60s oversized sunglasses and, despite the heat, driving gloves.


Walking back again past the Rose Garden, my feet started to hurt — I had been walking a lot the past couple of days. As I sat down, I was wondering for how long that convertible would be there still. I’m pretty sure it’ll be there for some time; I am only 19, after all. 


Contact Mikkel Nagorsen at [email protected]

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