Wednesday, October 14, 2009

semilla besada

Fall is not messing around this year. Have I talked about the weather lately? Because it's been a little odd. The spring was cold; the summer was late and never got all that hot. And then, within days of the autumnal equinox, we'd been catapulted into a rainy, cold, grey fall. Trees have been changing their colors for well over a month, presaging the actual season by weeks as the weather got steadily cooler.

On my block, although the other trees have finally started to yellow and drop their leaves, there is one singular tree that has been brilliantly orange and red since at least mid-September. I've picked up its fallen leaves as I walked by, maple leaves colored that amazing neon red with the veins still outlined in vivid green like a child's idea of someone getting electrocuted, the articulated skeleton bright beneath the flesh. Fall has been my favorite season ever since I moved here from Arizona and realized that it actually existed; even though it means winter is coming, there's something about the way the air feels that makes me profoundly happy. I wonder what it means that my favorite season is the one where things are falling asleep, or dying.

If spring is when I make my resolutions, fall is when I feel the most reflective. After a summer of exposed skin and fast bike rides, I'm beginning to break out my favorite and most comfortable clothing, scarves and corduroy pants and well-worn jackets. I'm walking places again, hands in my pockets while I take my time and memorize the street names and try not to look like too much of a peeping tom while I sneak glances into other people's lives. I'm an incorrigible eavesdropper, but I'm trying to get better at hiding it. I'm letting the chill air remind me of quilts and hot chocolate and cuddling instead of bitter cold and gritty ice, but I know that it's all tied together anyway. In order to have this time, this season of comfort and small but significant pleasures, I'll have to live through what comes after.

I swore, last year, that I would not stay here through another winter. In my mind, in the first actual "life plan" I'd made since graduation, I'd be living in Denver right now, adjusting to a new city and griping about the shitty public transportation because some things are the same everywhere. Instead, I'm here in my studio, looking at the grey sky and watching my cats tussle on the carpet. I don't regret it. It's (perhaps) unlikely I'll be here forever, but for right now I think this is where I'm supposed to be. My time in Chicago is not done yet, and in many ways I feel like I'm just beginning, five years after I first set foot here, confused and heartsick and terrified of the big city and grad school and pretty much everything. A year ago I felt like my time was winding down towards a logical conclusion, but it turns out I was just gearing up for so many changes I would never have guessed what was in store. I'm happy here. This is, for now, home.

I once had a postsecret published, and it seems increasingly relevant. I was sort of embarrassed at the time (and, frankly, I still am a little bit), because it was cheesy: a postcard, found at a thrift store, of a giant walk-through model of a heart that they have (or used to have) at the Museum of Science and Industry. I wrote it shortly after my graduation from Northwestern, deep in the middle of what was easily the worst time I've had to live through, on a relatively good day when I was trying to pull myself up by the metaphorical bootstraps. The words I taped to the front, full of the tentative hope that somehow the act of creating this card for a stranger would release me from some of my pain and sorrow, were these: "I'm so much stronger than I ever would have guessed." (Which is fine, except it was also followed by the word "Yay!" Oh cheese, we go way back.) At the time, my strength involved mere survival; three and a half years later, I feel actually strong. Strong enough, I suppose, for at least one more winter.


Rosiecat said...

And I so miss the fall! We've got the grey and the rain here, but no chill in the air and no leaves changing colors. Oh, Texas, you're not bad but you're no Chicago.

I'm happy to see this post. Fall is by far my favorite season in the Midwest, and it damn near breaks my heart that I'm missing it this year--and probably for the next several years.

I love the bit about being an eavesdropper. I am the same way! People are so fascinating. I love to peep in people's grocery carts to see what they like and what they are buying--it's like a little window into their bellies and their lives. I'm sure I look like a crazy health nut when other people look into my basket ;-)

Lauren said...

I love your posts. And you're not alone in having your favorite season be the one where everything is dying or falling asleep. I always had a kind of tortured relationship with fall - loving it and having such high hopes for it and then always getting my heartbroken. And it wasn't until I came to Arizona, where the fall is barely fall at all, that I started to love it. Weird, right? Maybe I can only take the bits and pieces of autumn without the descent into actual winter. But I'm really happy for your sense of feeling like you belong where you are, at least for now. And yay for publishing postsecrets. :)

ammie said...

Hugs to you both! I miss you!
Here, thanks to the searching skillz of Mugsie, is a link to my actual postsecret.

Lauren said...

oooh i like it. :)

i was super thrilled b/c i got 2 postsecrets published this spring:

and this one:

I, too, am a fan of cheese. :) <3

ammie said...

Oh, I didn't know the conductor one was you! Although... can't say I'm surprised ;) Fantastic! i forget to check every week, and sometimes I wonder if something's been posted without my knowing it. But what's more important anyway, the writing or the seeing? I could make arguements for both.

Lauren said...

hehe, thanks! I definitely felt a thrill in having them published, but I think it's the act of making them that is the most fun. I've made a few others that haven't been on the site but it was good to make them. I keep meaning to have a little "postsecret party" with myself and make more. I really want one/all of the books.

Amber said...

It's so funny that your favorite season became fall after moving from Arizona. My last few years in Phoenix, fall has become my favorite season, because it's finally cool and the weather is beautiful. It's not a like a normal fall where the leaves change, actually all my roses bloom and I do quite a bit of planting. Any normal place and spring would be my favorite season, but here it is the long, cool, fall.