Oh, Fall, You Cruel Mistress

I love this time of year, I said, in super serious sincerity.
Chunky sweaters. (HAHAHAHAHAhahahaha just kidding. It hasn’t been lower than 75 and it’s going to be 93 on Friday.)
Hot drinks make more sense (because I drink them even in the sweltering heat of summer).
Less people at the beach, which leaves more room to enjoy the gorgeous sunsets.
The promise of holidays around the corner and the chance to see family.
Things feel, I don’t know, more cozy.

And then it all starts to tilt sideways.

The first thing that happens is my mind starts to whirrrr with the possibilities of ideas. This part is exiting! Yay! New ideas! And then the moon turns blood red and mercury goes into retrograde and too many people get into pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING [Et Tu, Chobani!?] and whoopsie, that’s where the tilting starts.

Just when I’m thinking about all the awesome things I’d like to do, my mind/body won’t cooperate. Like, Shut Down for business. Taking a shower becomes an Olympic event and staring out the window at the dappled sunshine on the patio is as much movement that happens for hours. The leaves are so beautiful! They’re so beautiful I guess I’ll cry about it.

I remember this. It happens in the fall of every year. Some years it’s more severe than others. The cosmic energy shifts and suddenly watching a documentary narrated by David Attenborough where a seal pup doesn’t make it will keep me in tears for hours because the pup’s mom is clearly in pain and grieving as she bellows into the rocks and hugs her lifeless pup with her neck and chest and head.

And then one afternoon I’m skimming through feeds and follow a link to a NYT piece about Rosemary Kennedy and I can’t sleep, the pain and grief are so poignant and sharp in my chest. (Seriously, don’t read that, or anything about Rosemary Kennedy’s life if you aren’t in a strong place.) I can barely whisper, “I read about Rosemary Kennedy’s life today,” to Joe as he’s falling asleep. “Do you need to go talk to someone about that,” asks Joe, who of course has previously understood how unfairly she was treated and is now looking at me with eyes filled with great concern, understanding how deeply I might be feeling this.

I shake my head no, wait for him to start breathing deeply, and then turn over and play a couple of hours of Nat Geo Bonza puzzles on my phone until my mind numbs enough and I can join him. The sound of Joe’s steady breathing pulls me into dreams where old, tired scenes are played out filled with people from my past.

When I woke up this morning I realized two things:
1. This is my 44th year on this planet and not one previous fall ever prepares me for the one-two-punch of a coming September and October.
2. If fall is all about the holidays, I’m making a new one called The Autumnal Melancholia Festival (trademark copyright hashtagCryTogether hashtagSeasonOfFeelings). We shall wear jeans, boots, chunky sweaters, (HAHAHAHA) sit around sipping hot lavender tea (that’s a thing, right?) and cry about deeply moving things that hurt our hearts this time of year. We can be introspective and clear our throats a lot. I might have some clever hankies in a drawer somewhere. We’ll do art. You’re all invited. Bring a scarf and a dark-colored, corduroy jacket. No membership fees. Who’s in?


I made this drawing of me at age 4. I wanted to remember that at one time, I did have sparkle in my eyes and I was happy as a kid. My thoughts this time of year turn inky, deep, and sad, so it helps to look at this version of myself while I wait for November to arrive. And November WILL arrive, my friends. (If you’re reading this, you aren’t annihilated. Congratulations. And life continues as per usual. Starting after The Autumnal Melancholia Festival, I mean.)

2 Replies to “Oh, Fall, You Cruel Mistress”

  1. I’m right there. Crying at the sight of the sun through the trees by the creek across the street. And today…the last sunny day for awhile…I added a migraine to the equation.

    Worst part? This used to be my favorite season. And I KNOW I have every reason to be happy (or at least not so. damned. sad) ~ but I can’t help it.

    Breathing through it, and wishing I could sit with you for art time.

    Hang in there, and I will too.

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