The Fall

California sunrise via

I woke up this morning cold. Not just “annoyed that I had to get out of bed and abandon once and for all the chance that I might be able to sleep until the point where I actually feel rested” – that hasn’t happened in a few months, and I don’t see it in my near future. Like, freezing. Teeth-chattering.

(Yes yes, the former Boston/NYC-dweller in me is rolling her judgy little eyes. Whatever, my body is set to California now. I’m cold.)

Winter is, as they say, coming. Usually this time of year, for me, is an exciting one: I start planning my son’s annual Spooky Birthday Party way in advance, and am always the first one on the block to pull out the seasonal decorations and start loading up my front porch with pumpkins.

I can feel October in the air, but my decorations are still packed way up there in my storage space. I have to get them down, but not because I’m putting them up; because they’ve got to go somewhere. Anywhere other than here.

My neighbor’s porch is hung with ghosts and bats. She pulled cotton into cobwebs around her front door. This year, no neighbors will yell from across the street to me that I’m rushing the season, showing them up – ha ha. It might be in my head, but it feels a little like they’ve already started treating me like I’ve gone.

All I want is to lift up out of this place – now a bit grimy in the corners, because I’ll clean before the new owners arrive, but right now I have way too much on my plate to think about Windex – and land wherever it is that I’m landing. I want to hang my own ghosts, and string my own cobwebs. I want to plan my son’s birthday party. I want to give him such a good one this year.

This post originally started out as a little “yay, fall” roundup, and devolved into…this. But when I first sat down to write, intending to post about sweaters and pom pom hats and such, I went scrolling through my archives, and found this under a post about mulled wine:

Years ago, my friend Stephen (who long-time readers may remember as one half of the couple who lived below us on the Upper East Side) and I were sitting on my couch bemoaning the approach of winter, and he said, “You know what? I’ve decided to love every season.” Daffodils and breezes in the spring; sand and the smell of Hawaiian Tropic in the summer; chai lattes and leaves in the fall; fireplaces and movie nights in the winter. There’s always something beautiful about where you are; it’s what you choose to focus on that matters.

Stephen was taking about the seasons, about giving equal appreciation to cozy blankets and picnics in the sun…but what he meant was bigger than that.

There’s always something beautiful about where you are. And if you stop moaning for a minute, you might be able to see it.

This year, in my world, the seasons are passing unannounced. I spent the early spring in recovery. The summer’s start and end only registered in my brain as an adjustment on the thermostat. And now it’s fall, and mulled wine and pom-pom hats are the last things on my mind.

My kitchen table looks like a garbage dump, covered with leftover house sale pamphlets, piles of paperwork, beauty products I have to photograph at some point today (when, exactly?), and a zinnia that I forgot to water, and that died. But outside, the sun has started coming up while I’ve been sitting here writing these words. The string lights around the pool are still glowing in the half-light. There’s dew dripping off a corner of the umbrella on our porch. I can hear my children breathing deeply all the way from down the hall.

This is where I am: sitting in silence, drowning in paper, waiting for morning.

There is something very beautiful about it.

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