Springtime in the City: Expectation vs. Reality

By JiJi Lee ’01

Illustration of woman sniffing a berry at a farmer's market

Expectation: I will take a leisurely stroll around the farmers market, examining and sniffing fresh produce, as if I am Julia Child shopping at an open-air marché in Paris or the type of person who knows when fruit is ripe or not.

Reality: I take a deep whiff of berries and instantly get stung by a bee.

Illustration of a phone weather app with a devil-face emoji

Expectation: I will go out, wearing my brand-new floral dress and open-toed shoes, because it’s a 70-degree day and my weather app is showing a smiling-sun emoji.

Reality: It starts hailing within five minutes of leaving my apartment, and I’m forced to create a makeshift umbrella out of my sandals. The smiling-sun emoji on my weather app has turned into a devil-face emoji with lightning bolts for eyebrows. 

Illustration of woman laying in bed

Expectation: Springtime means romance is in the air! At the park, I will lock eyes with a comely stranger who will engage me in a friendly and stimulating conversation on current events, movies, our favorite bruschetta toppings, and the book Lincoln in the Bardo, because even though I’ve owned this book for two years, I will have definitely read it by spring.

Reality: The only thing that’s in the air is pollen. Seasonal allergies keep me in bed. I never find out what a bardo is. 

Illustration of a jogger taking a break

Expectation: I will go jogging.

Reality: Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s not get too ambitious here!

Illustration of squirrels sitting on a hammock

Expectation: I will become a plant owner. I’ll have orchids, ferns, and whatever plants I see on Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram. My apartment’s balcony will be a veritable Garden of Eden. I will relax languorously in a stylish hammock. 

Reality: I forget to water my plants. The dry, brittle leaves turn my balcony into a fire hazard. My hammock becomes a resting place for the local squirrel population.

Illustration of woman eating melting ice cream

Expectation: I will eat an ice-cream cone and it will melt all over me.

Reality: I eat an ice-cream cone and it melts all over me. 

Illustration of pigeons pecking at feet in sandals


Expectation: After deconstructing my makeshift umbrella and reassembling the parts into open-toed shoes, I will finally have the opportunity to show off my freshly painted pedicure.

Reality: After neglecting my feet all winter, my toenails look like oyster shells. Passersby gawk at my hardened heels. Children run away in horror. A bird pecks at my toes, mistaking them for seafood. And after all that, my feet don’t even produce a pearl.

Illustration of woman walking leisurely through city streets in springtime

Expectation: I will finally work on my novel, because the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and my creativity is blossoming like a yellow daffodil.

Reality: I do not write my novel because it’s actually sunny and warm out and I have to enjoy spring while it lasts — which, as always, is a long and indulgent five to 10 minutes.

Latest IssueSpring 2023