Note: This is the tenth 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. MSW and I should have been friends sooner in Texas so we could have ruled it, but our friendship came post-seminary as we needed people who just get it. Once, we survived inauguration together. It was cold.
When you live in the deep South, the lingering heat of the summer often relegates Autumn to a two week period, occurring sometime during the month of October. Finally, during that magical time, the 80s cool to the 60s and the quarter of the trees that aren’t evergreen pines turn somewhat yellow or somewhat orange and for a moment… it’s Fall… ish.
With the full knowledge of the inevitability of the autumnal hues quickly committing suicide, leaving us with a cold, wet winter until somewhere around Easter… when the other quarter of the trees that happen to be Dogwoods and not pines alert the South to Spring, I devoted myself to the idea of Autumn.
This idea wasn’t encapsulated in cable knit sweaters or the fall scenes that decorated the front porches in our painfully suburban neighborhood. In the first bedroom at the top of the stairs in the house on Deep Creek Drive, the idea was revealed slowly, in a shiny, slim volume of perfectly conceived knowledge: The August Issue of Teen Magazine.
For a young girl that could never (not even to this day) consider herself Young & Modern and for whom Seventeen was still years away, this issue contained the secret knowledge that would reset her entire world. The Back to School issue was essential for any girl of my particular social standing (or lack thereof), because, very simply, those for whom coolness and style did not come naturally had no choice but to turn to Teen.
I would pour over the spreads of jumper clad high school freshman with heeled loafers, walking to school against the most perfect Fall setting. With each page, I would fixate on the idea that these clothes (and savvy makeup tips) would change everything that needed to be changed for this time in my life. As the trees turned inward and reset themselves, I too would shed the former season, and find another form in the Fall.
It rarely worked. The season’s coolest GAP fashions rarely made it to the local TJ Maxx.
This year, once again in Georgia and quite beyond Seventeen, I poured over the September issue of Vogue with the same hope in my little wanna-be heart. Searching the pages for meaning, for direction, for the means by which I will reset and be new. Fifteen Falls later, I find myself closing that shiny volume of perfect knowledge, no closer to a newer self than a Georgia Autumn is to a real one.
The season makes me aware, in its perfect rhythm and half hearted attempts to renew, that this year will be much like the last. I will still attempt to be new, to be more compelling, to be more impressive… and will finally settle on being the same old me. In my 29th Autumn, much more so than my 14th, I find comfort in being somewhat settled and somewhat formed… adult…ish.