First day of fall, my dear ones.
As many times as I have declared the summer of 2012 to be behind me, it actually, scientifically, unequivocally is. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to celebrate, but it’s an in-town weekend with very little on the agenda, which is exactly what I need today. Veronica gave me a sage bundle back in August, when I was covered up with other people’s problems, and I think I’ll open all the windows and burn it today. You can totally come over and heckle me if you want. We’ll all feel better.
Fortunately, I feel about a thousand times better already. It happens for me as soon as the weather breaks every year and we get into clear-blue-sky September, but this year was more complicated than usual. Most of the oppressive family weather, fortunately, has blown away for now. Clashing fronts have subsided and the climate is a little more temperate. Not so much that I have entirely emerged from my storm cellar, but enough that this middle child has thrown open the doors and prairie-dogged up to see what’s on the horizon. It looks good. It looks like blue skies and cool air.
I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the change of seasons brings about quite a bit of topsy-turviness, even when the change is welcome. Everyone is a little bit scattered right now. It took me three trips to the grocery store to assemble Audrey’s birthday cake this week, and then I knocked over an entire box of powdered sugar with my elbow. I rearranged my studio at home and dropped an unopened quart of white paint on the floor, which exploded open and spilled everywhere. I also dropped my favorite architecture triangle, the one with the steel edge for cutting things, and it shattered. How do you shatter something with a steel edge? And once you start dropping things, you drop everything, have you noticed?
The little things you can clean up, but the bigger ones are harder. One of my little people just started kindergarten, and his teacher has a mean face on a stick she waves at five-year-olds when they fidget or chatter. (Something is wrong with a five-year-old who doesn’t fidget or chatter, you’d think she might know that.) She waved it at my godson for fidgeting and he came home crying. Now he’s having nightmares. I told his mother I was going to set that mean face on a stick on fire, and then take that child out for ice cream and then buy him a pony.
One of my other little people just started preschool, and cried so hard the first week that his mother could hear him from inside her house down the street. This godson came home and ate three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then did a face plant on the carpet and slept for three hours. They said the only time he stopped crying was in music class. Of course. I need to buy him a pony too, although I think this one would be happier with a drum kit. I won’t do that to his parents. Yet.
Some of my older people are navigating some hard things, too. Some are dealing with problems of their own making, and some are dealing with bodies that are rebelling against them, and some are dealing with problems that are just a part of life, but it doesn’t make them any easier to work through. One of them was telling me about her first ever mother-daughter fight, and we’re talking decades, and wow. All I could do was listen sympathetically. I did not think that telling her the number of obscenities I managed to work into my last mother-daughter blowout would make her feel better. Most of the time, all you can do when someone is hurting is to show up and listen, anyway. Say I’m so sorry this is happening, and I love you, and I’m here for you.
Some of the change is out of the blue, such as yesterday when my co-worker announced, apropos of nothing and in the middle of the room the three-and-a-half of us share, that she was quitting. Fifth co-worker to leave in the two years I’ve been there; in an office of three-and-a-half people, that’s kind of remarkable. I’m thinking I’m about to get busier for a while. I don’t mind that a bit.
The rest of the changes all sound great to me; most notably, a very small new European in the family in the next few weeks. The little changes are nice, too. I got out my fall boots, and put my first quilt on the bed, and am switching from summer squash and tomatoes to sweet potatoes and fresh kale from my garden. I’m working on my State Fair recipe. I put away my white dresses and sandals, and ordered a pair of black leather pants online. (I’m determined to-recreate this outfit, on an intern architect budget. Don’t tell my mother, she’ll be appalled. Which, let’s be honest, is part of the fun.)
I don’t know exactly what’s been going on, or how exactly this relates, but it seems important. I’d say it’s been about six months now since I picked up my guitar; probably the musical equivalent of writer’s block. Don’t let me mislead you; I know the same ten chords that everyone else who barely plays the guitar knows, and although I have played guitar for close to twenty years, I stopped getting better at about year four. This doesn’t stop me from enjoying it, though. I have intense stage fright, but I will sing at the top of my lungs alone in my living room before bedtime. Pretty much every song I know involves wailing, or it’s no fun to sing; I dare you to sing a song involving any kind of wailing and see if you don’t feel better at the end. Monday, after spilling the powdered sugar but before exploding the paint can, I picked up my guitar again, tuned it, and sang for an hour. That was overdue. There was some pent-up music in there. I instantly felt great.
And so: after a season at a standstill, we have made it to fall, and it feels like things are moving forward again. It’s a perfect September Saturday. I’m going to throw open the windows and sweep off the porch and start a new book and mow the lawn one last time, and bake some bread.
And burn some sage. Can’t hurt.