Each year, I wait all year for October.
The smells—cool autumn air churning through naked tree tops, and cinnamon and pumpkin and sage burning in candles or baking in ovens, and spiced cider, and the hot, buttery waft of apple turnovers and apple pie and, really, apple everything.
And the sounds—of the leaves underfoot, and the children running home from school, and the scratch of rakes gathering another year’s harvest into piles, and the slow quieting of the birds.
And the sensations—of battening down the hatches, of pulling out the wool and the cashmere and the down comforters, of feeling nostalgic, of drawing the summer shut, fully, finally, and looking forward to the last, great heights of the year: the holidays.
Each autumn, I think: this will be The Year.
This October, I am on the road.
So far this month, I’ve spent more days in Washington, DC and New York City than I have in my home state. Each week, I pack my small bag and re-fill my toiletries case. I drive myself to Logan Airport in the dark, before dawn. I now have to check the monitors to make sure I know where exactly I’m going and when. I board the shuttle flights full of red-eyed business travelers such as myself, and I wonder: Is this The Year? Is this The October?
When it all changes. When it all happens.
In between the flights and the hotels and stuffy, greasy taxi cabs, I try to find the poetry of my favorite month: Listening to my niece recite snippets of the “Five Little Pumpkins” song I have sung to her at least 30 times. Chasing my dear friend’s little boy beneath the boughs of Macintosh trees, our soles slipping on cores and twigs, our fingers sticky, his laughter infectious and sweet.
Sitting in a bar booth with my mother and my father and my sister on a rainy Friday afternoon, drinking pumpkin beer out of pints rimmed in sugared cinnamon, devouring big, steaming bowls of clam chowder, and talking, and laughing, and loving.
Taking long, patient jogs up and down the Marblehead streets, ribboned like presents in crimson and gold. Moving across my yoga mat and hearing the cracks in my hips and my knees and knowing, with a smile, the heat and humidity of summer has left me, and now my body is tight from the cool, eager embrace of fall.
Staring out a car window and holding my breath in the dazzling splash of red and yellow and orange, thrown across the rolling wheat fields and dairy farms of Quebec, and saying we could not be North, not when the sky broke open so beautifully, so grandly, so exquisitely, like out West. Walking in circles with you around a fountain in the heart of Montreal and thinking the leaves beneath our shoes looked like coins, like copper pennies, and I wanted to pick one up, and toss it into the water, and wish and wish and wish.
The October when it all changes, it all happens.
The wonder of living in a place with seasons is that the changes outside of us can fuel and inspire and direct the changes within us—quarterly, to boot.
My life feels, as ever, chaotic and busy and strange, but it is changing, like the world around me. I can feel the shift in my thoughts, my priorities, my focus. I can see clearly again. I’m not so afraid anymore.
And I keep waiting for the tell-tale burst—of energy, of romance, of motivation–that always comes to me with October. But, sitting here in a Washington, DC hotel room, and looking at my calendar full of New York trips and friends coming to town and family visiting at the end of the month (and, in between the trips and visits, an attempt at yoga and exercise and socializing and loving and writing), I can only smile and shrug and hope I get through it all safely, soundly, with my good health and some last shred of sanity.
Because I’m beginning to think this month is less about the burst and more about the bloom of what’s to come.