“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
For all my mouth protesting the descent into the cold and the gray, I’ve been more than merry about the recent sharp turn towards autumn. It feels absolutely right, fitting snug, a beloved sweater half-forgotten over the course of the warm seasons. Could it be the summer, in all its glorious hither and thither resplendence, its aperol spritz sunsets and its beachtime debauchery, was wearing out its welcome?
Fall brings with it changes in appetite. Squash and eggplant and everything roasted, thyme and rosemary, oats, cinnamon. Cravings for the new, amped up derring-do. This has happened every September to date. The artificial academic year needn’t necessarily govern our annual rhythms, and yet my Septembers continue to unabashedly open themselves, blank and inviting.
Four years ago, meeting Derrida, and realizing I wasn’t studying what I might ought to have been studying. Living in a neon green room with electric blue shelves, everything shocked into existence in a dilapidated corner of Richmond, Indiana, just across from 24-hour Tim Horton’s. Collecting wine bottles around the cabinet edges, and throwing too many dinner parties, and falling in and out of love and lust with comrades and academia alike.
Three years ago, Charansanitwong, the ducks hanging by their necks in the market and the beers in the 7-11s, green slime desserts, Jodi’s dragonface window and aquarium of straws. Understanding exactly nothing, alternatively reveling and despairing in discomfort. Walking speculations on real estate, big plans, big big plans. Insult, betrayal, ejection, desolation, dancing – and a slow lorris, and Foodland, taxis and tones and finding my feet.
Two years ago, Madrid opening to me, and moving in with Héctor and Marta in the Palos de la Frontera grunge-chic hidey-hole. Exuberance unchained, raw words and photos, chilaquiles, Global Classrooms. Constantly losing myself to the temptation of just one more calle. Fulbright as a means. Believing in magic, still, and color, and candles.
One year ago, plunging madcap back into my city, shaking free of summer’s grime through furious commitment to reinvention. Filling up every last line in the planner. Inviting all sorts of everyone into my home, my Madrid. Opening immediately as a salve, stinging sweet on fresh wound. Making peace with the wash and with what I carry, riding it.
This year, this week, rain, at last, and so much of it. William Blake and Vida Artificial, truffle oil and foie, lentils and tuna salad. Lolita and Oscar Wao and Mary Roach and The Poisonwood Bible. Português, a língua dos sonhos. Grecian ideas. A chicken and a bottle of white and your hand in mine. Becoming a regular, plus unanticipated connections through wires and waves. Falling. Flying. Lesson planning. Missing, hard, and hauling with me this heavy heart of mine each day, and loving it despite – because of? – its weighty cargo. You, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you. Spreading it much too thick, and biting in recklessly.