During the spring of my senior year of college I had the talk with my don (basically my advisor, but Sarah Lawrence, that bastion of progressivism, naturally went with the Oxbridge model) that every kid who is on the cusp of real live adulthood indulges in. The I’m scared/I’m not ready/I’m totally done with being a student while being terrified of not being a student/I have no idea what to do with my life talk. Somewhere in the middle of my heartfelt and unknowingly clichéd monologue I mentioned that fall was my favorite time of year because it felt like the real New Year-the excitement of back to school followed by the best holidays–Halloween, Thanksgiving, and culminating with Christmas. Leaving school made me feel like the anticipation of fall would be gone forever.
I might have been a tad bit overdramatic. Then…and every moment since then.
My don, the patient and kind Dave McRee, listened to this speech he must have heard untold times before and asked what could happen in the fall moving forward to continue to make it a special time for me. I adore people who were meant to be teachers.
At that point Z and I had not even been dating for a year. But we fell in love hard and fast and while we wouldn’t become officially engaged until after I graduated, we knew we were going to get married. Dave knew, too. We were encouraged to develop close relationships with our dons at good old SLC. I told him that Z and I were planning on a fall wedding the year after I graduated. That settled it for Dave, I had my thing to make fall special.
Dave is still at Sarah Lawrence, he has helped shepherd thousands of students through the terrifying transition to adulthood since I graduated in 1999. He probably wouldn’t remember me if his life depended on it. But because of that conversation I will remember him forever. He was right, our wedding and then our anniversaries made September very special to me.
Of course it became significant in unforeseen ways. The 22 year old I was could not have imagined September 11th, 2001. I couldn’t have imagined the fall that Z told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. Or the fall of our 10th wedding anniversary, the day we found I miscarried twins. Because the 22 year old that I was couldn’t imagine the pain of normal, unsheltered, adult life.
There has been so much more than pain. Z and I fought for our marriage, we learned that loving someone is easy, but liking them takes work. We like each other again now. It still feels like a miracle. T was born at the end of the summer of ’09, C at the beginning of fall ’11. Z went to grad school in ’06, which put us back on an academic schedule. He became an assistant professor at SU, the the academic calendar now rules our lives.
Fall has continued to be my favorite season for all those reasons, but I am falling in love with it all over again through the eyes of my boys. Because their preschool is run by the university it begins several weeks after the start of the semester so the student teachers can be trained. They start tomorrow. T is beside himself with excitement.
He can’t decide if he wants to be Luke Skywalker for another year this Halloween, or if he should be Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is already talking about what he wants for Christmas. Next weekend he is going to have a blast at the annual street fair that takes place a block or so from our house. Both sets of grandparents are visiting this month, so are his Aunts and our niece. There will be apple picking and pumpkin carving and leaves to rake.
Every single day that we dropped off T at school last semester C wept with frustration when it was time to leave. He was fantastic during the orientation visit last week and I am giddy with happiness about tomorrow. That kid is going to explode with joy when he figures out T’s school is also his school. We are getting him help with his speech, hopefully he will be less frustrated and able to communicate with us a bit better over the next few months.
We had friends over last night. Ultimately there were 5 kids and 12 adults hanging out in our little house. We do cookouts all summer long. If an anxiety-ridden agoraphobic is going to do any socializing it helps tremendously to do it on home turf. It has turned chilly here, and it rained on and off all day yesterday. For the first time since May the gathering was indoors. We lucked into a magical backyard, I was melancholy about moving festivities inside, but there is also something lovely about a house bursting at the seams with kids running wild while pockets of grown ups drink and eat and shoot the shit.
Change fucks with me under the best circumstances. Fall is my favorite season, but especially in Syracuse winter is nipping right at its heels. Winter. The nemisis of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve decided I love fall enough to tell the natural pessimist (Stark-ness?) in me to shut the fuck up about winter coming. I’m going to do my best to beat that bitch anxiety into submission and just enjoy the next few months.
Fall means homework now that I’m taking classes again. It’s new to have my son cuddle up to me, legos in hand, while I try to read about ethics.
My daredevil climbed up onto the two wheeler himself.
It’s not warm enough to go shirtless when we get ice cream these days. T uses ice cream as an opportunity to try facial hair configurations for the future.
Z made a jughead hat from an old fedora. Perfect fall headwear.