It’s the middle of October, and I’m still struck with awe when I catch a handful of tiny yellow leaves falling in the sunlight toward the ground on a dewy morning or late afternoon.
So much beauty and grace, and yet my heart is a little bit seized in the realization that I’m watching these tiny beautiful things die. Oh man, but they die so brilliantly. The dying part is the most spectacular! Bright and fiery, yellows and reds, hikes and camping and bon fires and Halloweens and Thanksgivings…
I see these tiny beautiful things, and even as I’m enjoying them, I am simultaneously bracing for winter. It will be cold and barren, and all the living things will curl up underground, and we’ll be subjected to endless Februarys and Marches, and just when we think spring is coming, it will snow in April.
All these thoughts make that little yellow leaf’s beauty a dull ache in my chest.
I can’t even enjoy it, because I want to keep it forever. But if I could keep leaves on trees forever to avoid winter, this particular one would not be beautiful and falling…
Today I lost my shit in the Indian Buffet.
I had just dropped off my extra meds and syringes at the fertility clinic we’ve been going to for the last several years, because we are moving. I gave hugs and said goodbyes and thanked them for being so accommodating. It’s bizarre when the people who most understand your particular roller coaster of treatment are the strangers who facilitate it, and that you sort of want to to hug and cherish those strangers when parting ways, and, I mean, these strangers have seen all your business, so they are potentially the most intimate strangers you’ll ever encounter. But I was so thankful for them, and I hugged them.
The clinic was just a check-marked item on a list of things to accomplish today between goodwill and the consignment shop and work. No forethought, no afterthought, just dropping off and saying bye.
Then I went to the Indian place next door, because that’s where J and I usually went after appointments and ultrasounds and procedures—like, as a reward. Several times we planned in advance to go there if the appointment was good to celebrate, but ended up there anyway if the appointment was bad to commiserate. Garlic naan and a quarter mile of double-sided Indian food lines will see you through most anything. Grief Eating, I think it’s called.
That’s when the craziest thing happened. I realized as I sat there with no residual thoughts about the clinic or the meds or the fact that it’s normal for me to tote around two pounds of syringes in my purse that I wasn’t grieving any more. The season was over.
My friend Kim on a parallel journey said the same thing about a month ago, and I remember thinking I will never not grieve. Even if I get everything I want, this experience hollowed me out in ways that will never get filled back in.
(Though I do my part to manually fill myself back in with the garlic naan.)
But we hadn’t been to the clinic in four months, and a whole new life in a new city with great jobs and entire neighborhoods of spectacular Indian food sprouted during that time, and it distracted us long enough to drop the sorrow. Sorrow gets so comfy, you know. You don’t even realize you’re wearing it half the time—until it’s gone.
I lost it when I realized mine was gone.
In the midst of all that delicious curry and garlic and catharsis, I understood how much unfulfilled hope the Indian buffet held. I remembered how dark and long the winter was during the season we ate there, and then I couldn’t stop crying—crying out of gladness it was over, and crying from the deep place that stored it.
I was in a glass case of emotion, per my friends Tara and Ron Burgundy.
Nothing is permanent, and nothing is permanent. That’s the good and bad news.
The green leaves don’t last, and the yellow leaves don’t last, and the polar vortex doesn’t last. And even two Marches plus fake spring eventually give way to actual spring.
I’m not in charge of any of it, you know. Nobody asked me how seasons should be, or how long they should last, or in what order they should go.
But man, I wish I could be a beautiful falling thing.
(Instead of a beautiful flailing thing, or the thing that clings to the tree.)
Cheers to the next season, Internet. We’re heading to Chicago.