The masochist in me still yearns for summer. Summer is frisky—a time of looser rules, minimal clothing, and prioritizing leisure. Routine is tossed aside in favor of free-spirited play, due to the simple fact that nothing productive can happen in such oppressive heat. For a brief period, I turn myself over to this heat; I like to sweat. I love a cleanse.

But summer is also merciless. It is a time of restless unrest—boredom, unbearable temperatures, and increased surveillance serve up a dizzying cocktail of heightened agitation. Here, it is also a time of hurricanes, rendering this chunk of months inexorably taxing with either active disaster preparedness or passive anxiety in anticipation of it.

I reach the same moment, whether it be two weeks or three months in, every summer—I have got to get out of here. I find myself booking flights and hotel rooms with a week-and-a-half’s notice. I text friends in other states looking for a couch to crash on. These last minute get-aways serve as tolerance breaks, which is a good thing. Change is a good thing. Variety, escape, distraction—all good, in moderation. This heat, this world, is too much sometimes.

After Hurricane Ida, when the summer had thoroughly done me in, I turned to another world: the world of Zelda. I played Breath of the Wild, the 2017 iteration of The Legend of Zelda, for hours and hours. I stayed up into the middle of the night, losing my grip on my own fractured world, and integrated myself into Hyrule.

Two weeks ago (on May 12), the follow-up game, Tears of the Kingdom, was released—building out, up, and down what already felt like an overwhelmingly vast landscape. In those two weeks, I have already logged more than 55 hours.

In Tears of the Kingdom, the possibilities really do feel endless. With three layers of map to unveil, scattered shrines and side quests, and the ability to build almost any vehicle or weapon you can imagine, hours zip by in the time you’ve completed a fourth of what you set out to do. Each person I’ve talked to has discovered and completed at least five things I’ve yet to come across. Everyone’s approach is different, and talking to friends only reaffirms how much I still have to discover about this world. There is an excitement in all the exploration to be done.

In these unforgiving months, when I have work, responsibilities, and finite money to spend, knowing that this other world exists in all of its immeasurable possibilities is comforting. For a few hours I don’t have to be here, and I don’t have to run away to get away.

There will come a point in these upcoming months when I need to escape physically and immediately. I can already feel the beginnings of an itch. But until then, I journey to Hyrule in search of Princess Zelda, reassured that the monsters I fight there are actually defeatable with the right tools and tenacity. I hope you find a wealth of summer escapes. —Marisa Clogher

illustration by Laura Frizzell

June 2023 cover by Caesar Meadows

Back cover, “Medusa’s Thread,” by Laura Narayan Hein

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