Goodbye, Summer. You were swift and full with a rainy start and late bloom, and you ushered in a new chapter of life for me. You were the first summer of Joe (my little brother who moved in with us in October), the summer of The Grand (the local arthouse theater I have been interning for since May), the summer of puppy-parenting (John’s and my first really big step towards creating a family), and most prominently the summer of first-time homeownership. In many ways I feel I have grown up just that much more this summer, as I transitioned with the sun’s rays out of a lengthy season of confusion, hurt, depression, and searching for direction into a place of forward motion and foundation building. Personally, I grew in my self-confidence and belief that I have the ability—the capability—to work hard and well at something that matters to me: I can get a job that makes me feel good about myself. As a family, we grew by one brother plus one puppy and found a place to dig our roots in deep: we are defining “home”! As a couple, John and I pushed through barriers of financial insecurity, doubt in one another, and fear of getting stuck to move into a new place of intimacy and partnership that I am so grateful for.
Summer, you started out slow and tentative; Will they accept our offer? Will we be approved for the loan? Will I find a job? Will we have enough? Will Joe come with us? Will it start to warm up? In the beginning your days were filled with questions and stresses about things we could not control. They transitioned into the chaos and business of transition as we packed and cleaned, moved and settled, and started new adventures by getting me out of the house to work, adding a tiny furry life to our brood, and downsizing to one car. I stopped shopping, we stopped going to bars, and we started hauling lumber in our Fiat and drilling holes into things. You finally warmed up just as our neighbors did to us, and everything seemed to come into full bloom! We barely even noticed it happening because we were so focused on all of the good things in our life, but we became completely saturated by happiness and contentment, hopefulness and togetherness. I became a fruit tree harvester, party hostess, film reviewer, small animal wrangler, hammock swinger, and head shaver (nothing quite compares to standing in front of the bathroom mirror and shaving my own head). Joe became the neighborhood hero as resident Magic the Gathering expert, and John settled into watering the lawn every night. We forgot to go camping and float the river and be social, and by the time it finally started to “feel” like summer, you waned.
The calendar says it’s still summer until September 22 but the end has come. Another Labor Day weekend—which we were too exhausted and unprepared to take full advantage of—is in the books, all of Tacoma’s kiddos are back to school, NY Fashion Week is well underway, and even though the sun still peeks out at us here in the PNW we have moved far enough away from it that the air is heavier and cooler. I had been feeling markedly depressed for the past week or so, struggling with bouts of fatigue and despair which seemed to come from nowhere, when I woke up one morning to a gray drizzly sky and realized that summer had expired. In one symbolic movement I switched the A/C in the Fiat to “OFF” and a small kind of death occurred. This shift in season is wrought with conflict for me because, unlike the slow and steady onset of spring in the Northwest, fall arrives in its fullness seemingly overnight around here. It makes me think of the human life cycle and how long it takes for a baby to grow into an adult person but when the time comes that life is extinguished in an instant. People around here are usually complaining all August long about how they can’t wait for the cooler weather, but I never wish for summer to hurry on because I know that the end will come, and once it has there will be no turning back. That suddenness and finality makes me anxious.
It’s not that I don’t love the fall, because I do. Summer is exhausting in its constant demand for optimism and activity. I’m tired of constantly smelling like a sour onion and feeling like I HAVE to enjoy myself and make the most of our temporary access to Vitamin D. I am ready to rest, and that is the relief that fall brings: justified isolation. The earth and with it our parched and tanned Tacoma lives are being quenched by the rain as we enter into something more familiar. This is the Northwest season, this is our element, being far enough away from the sun that night falls at 4 p.m. weirdly feels like home.
I just feel sad. I used to cry every year on the night before the first day of school, even in college, and I couldn’t explain why. Melancholy is defined as “sober thoughtfulness” and maybe that’s what it is—summer’s momentum has come to a screeching halt and I’m suddenly more introspective, unsure of what is coming and nervous about the change. I’ve felt this way before, and truthfully the past handful of winter’s have been awful, but I am hoping this is just a temporary adjustment to the new season. Nothing that I can’t cure by bingeing on Harry Potter until I make myself sick.
Do you feel sad as fall approaches? How do you cope with the change in season?