Sunday, October 5, 2008

As the leaves begin to fall

I woke up the other night to a cold wind winding its way through my apartment, leaving my arms and shoulders covered in goose bumps. I shrunk down into the warm ocean of blankets, intertwined my legs with the much hairier pair of my boyfriend's and smiled to myself. Autumn had arrived.

Autumn has forever been my favorite time of year. Growing up in Georgia, we always started school in the dead heat of August. My legs would stick to the blue plastic seats in the unbearably humid trailer that functioned as a classroom to alleviate some of the overcrowding. By October though, the oppressive weather would begin to lift; a crunchy frost would coat the grass in the dark mornings; leaves, already browned because of a decades-long drought, would begin to float off the trees and turn to mush on the lawn. As a child, Autumn meant lightweight jackets, Jack-o-lanterns, toasted pumpkin seeds and Thanksgiving. It meant getting to see my Papa Don and spending time sitting on the counter as my mom made dinner--the smell of spaghetti permeating our house.

As I got older, the onset of cool weather often signified that some change was coming. After the divorce, my dad met his first new wife in the beginning of Fall at a restaurant called Barnacles and married her the following winter on my 11th birthday. My mom remarried the next September in a tiny chapel in the Appalachian mountains. When I was seventeen, Autumn brought a new state and a new university. When I was eighteen, Autumn meant dropping out of school and purchasing a one-way ticket to Europe with no plan of return.

Two years ago, Autumn brought me back together with the bf on a cool crisp day. We came together in the long stretch of park next to my old apartment, pumping our legs hard on a pair of rickety wooden swings that hung by yellow rope from two tall, ancient oak trees. The higher we went, the less we could remember about why we parted ways to begin with. Within days I was back in that happy place, in the crook of his arm, where I could smell his warm skin and where everything wrong with the world no longer existed.

Autumn, I realize, is my season of renewal. It is the time that I create new friendships and reestablish relationships that I have let falter throughout the year. It is a time of intellectual reawakening and new projects. It is the time where all decisions that will affect the outcome of the following year are made. Most of all, Autumn is a season of love and family, and that will never change.

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