Jessai Flores

For many people, the end of the spring came with the birth of new perspectives for the coming months, some hoping for hot girl summers, hot vax summers or healing girl summers. I did not subscribe to any of these outlooks. Rather, my roommate Luka and I created our own throughout the summer, one that we affectionately dubbed as a solar summer.

It all began with the release of Lorde’s first single off her new album “Solar Power.” We sat crossed-legged on the floor of our kitchen and swayed back and forth to the music, a bonding moment over our favorite artist. What followed were weeks of serendipitous moments that could only be described by a new addition to our vocabularies: solar.

The solar lifestyle focused on warmth and was defined by yellow. I started to take a moment every early morning to watch the beauty of the sunlight beam through the extra tall windows in our living room, creating a calm, blanketed glow. A moment perfectly described as solar.

Our second weekend living together my roommate and I took a day trip to a quaint town called Niantic. I walked down the stairs, and we both laughed as we realized we were matching in sunshine yellow, not necessarily either of our go-to colors at the time. We decided to grab coffee at a random local shop and once there, realized it was named “Cafe Sol.” The inside displayed countless pieces of art depicting the sun. The coincidence felt too good to be true.

The solar mentality continued to dominate our lives. Our army of Snackpass chickens that hatched during the summer months all have sun-adjacent names, like Sol and Luz. On Tuesday mornings when we were walking back from the grocery store, we would always run into the same woman walking down Chapel Street, listening to music, walking her dog and hula-hooping all at once. Her presence brought so much joy to our morning and her energy was contagious. We quickly decided that she, too, was solar. One night, Luka decided to give me a tarot reading. He let three cards fall out and placed them face down to read my past, present and future. He flipped over the card in the middle and staring back at us was the sun card. Solar.

I got through the brutal heat wave in July by thinking about how very solar the whole situation was. We caught so many beautiful sunsets on our evening walks to see two of our friends living on Winchester Avenue. We picked fruit at Lyman Orchards and basked in the idea that the sun drove the biological processes that allowed us to harvest and enjoy it.

Our application of solar became increasingly broad as the summer progressed. One day driving home, we went by the gas station. The broken pump caused gas to spill on my car and pool on the ground next to it. Luka informed me that igniting my car near spilled gas could cause it to combust — a very important piece of information that I somehow missed out on in driver’s ed. I told him to get out of the car while I started it, but he refused. We were in it together. As he was preparing himself for possible doom, I ignited the engine. We looked at each other, still very much alive. I shouted out the sun for evaporating the gas and allowing us to live. Very solar. 

The most solar part of the summer, however, was Luka himself. He is the absolute sunshine of every day and brings light to everyone around him. My less-than-24-hour decision to move in with him for the summer turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The morning we moved out, the sun was especially radiant. Luka stopped me as I was driving away and snapped a picture. Later he texted it to me and captioned it “solar,” of course. A very fitting ending to one of the most beautiful of summers. 

To me, our solar summer — a partially joking, partially serious theme — was about the adoption of an optimistic outlook on life. It was an outlook that allowed us to appreciate the little things, laugh about the difficult things and smile even harder at the good things. It reminded me after the past year and a half of uncertainty, loss and wariness that it is still very possible to create joy and brightness in the people, places and experiences around you. Life can always be sunnier — more solar — than it feels.