Note: This is the second essay in the series of “Why We Love Autumn.” I recently asked some friends who love autumn as much as I do to reflect on what made them so excited for autumn to arrive. The answers will be varied and have a different voice each post. Looks like we will have two people per week through October. Ashley is a fellow Lostie and one of my constants. She rivals Doc Jensen in her knowledge of pop culture.
It happened around October 2003. I’d recently moved from the heart of Kentucky to the heart of Texas and change was happening in every area of my life. New state, new school, new friends, new life. In all of this welcomed change though, something was off.
I knew I wasn’t simply missing home. Yes, I could still go swimming in late September and wear flip flops around Halloween, but I was missing something. I’d already partaken in my back-to-school rituals of carefully filling out a fresh day planner with new events and syllabus assignments and the like. Time was settling into the new school year as it had done a million times before and all signs were pointing to Autumn’s arrival. But as I kicked on my car’s AC yet again, I wondered where is she?
Autumn had always been there–twenty-two times for me in fact–offering her cool, crisp air and radiantly blazing leaves. Yet I’d taken her presence and consistency for granted. For all those years that she’d signalled much more loudly than the beginning of school that the freedom of summer was ending, I’d failed to appreciate her and the set rhythm that she and her fellow three seasons brought year after year. For the first time without her, I realized she was what was missing. Like a silly teen movie when the dorky girl removes her glasses to reveal a beautiful, young woman, I finally took notice of Autumn.
Her arrival in late September and flashy showing off in mid-October have meant more to me in the last eight years without her than the two decades of overlooking her. I crave structure. I need structure. And Autumn always brings order exactly when I need it. What was carefree is given framework. Clothes change from linen to houndstooth. Go-to music of the Beach Boys gives way to tight harmonies of the Wailin’ Jennys. My own loose waves and half-hearted ponytail becomes painstakingly sleek and styled. Pumpkin spice lattes replace passion tea lemonade in my Starbucks cup. And most importantly my choppy vacation and summer spirit settles into a more constant rhythm of set schedules and meetings.
If summer reminds me to let go, then Autumn welcomes me back to myself. Organized, structured, comfortable. No matter where I am, I can always count on her being there taking my sun-kissed hand to usher me into the transition from breezy to neatly structured. Even in her ordering of my life she reminds me to slow down and look around, breathe in deeply, and seek out crunchy leaves to ride my bike over. And for that I’ll forever be chasing after her.