Have you ever walked down the street and it seems as though literally everyone else is walking in the other direction? There’s no one in front of you, no one behind you, just a constant stream of people on the other side of the sidewalk, going the other way.
I was walking up First Avenue earlier today and this happened to me. As far as I could see in either direction, there was no one else on the street. You get nervous: Is there something happening? Should I not be going uptown? Maybe there was a mainline explosion and the trains are down, a shooting, a protest, or maybe there’s a fabulous festival on Houston Street and here I am walking towards Union Square. What do I know? As far as I’m concerned, I’m the only one on earth going this way, and there’s something both empowering and disconcerting about this.
I don’t mean to get metaphorical about the fact that for perhaps 120 seconds of my existence, happenstance led to there not being droves of individuals careening up towards 14th Street at the same time as me. But today was the first day that I didn’t sweat when walking home, but rather pulled the strings on my hoodie in tighter to keep the crisp wind off my face. It was the first day that instead of bopping out to Danza Kuduro Radio on Pandora I walked musingly, almost somberly, to Adele, and made a mental note to load all my Simon and Garfunkel as well. It was the first time I got red wine instead of white wine or beer, and as the (oh-so-creepy) check out guy at Trader Joe’s told me to “enjoy the Pinot” I realized that it’s fall.
Summer is distracting. Yes, it’s sweltering, but there are beaches and frozen drinks and you get tan and you can be naked in public and not get judged. People who work in offices are allowed to dress down, those of us in the service industry are flush with the rush, rich people are on the Cape or the Hamptons, no one’s got school and happiness permeates. In short, we are a summer-driven culture.
Winter, though bitter, also has an element of diversion: The preparations and precautions you have to take simply to leave the house, the stepping over snow, the searching for the perfect jacket that won’t suffocate you on the subway but won’t let you freeze when the wind is whips around building corners, slicing your face. And there’s Christmas, New Year’s, and hot chocolate. That jolly silliness of a snowflake kissing your eyelash as you’re walking across the street and you just have to stop. You can’t Instagram a snowflake on your eyelash; you just have to enjoy it.
Spring is rebirth, beginnings, the crocus and the daffodils, yes. But it also melts into winter or summer – a cold spring, a warm spring – and is more of a flash than anything.
But fall. To me, fall is the most depressing and thought-provoking of the seasons. If makes you think about the loss of the good and the gaining of the bad. Fall is when you’re sitting outside drinking a coffee and someone walks by who smells like your ex. Fall is when all the cockiness fades away and you realize you have no idea what the fuck is going on. It’s when the smoothies and the ocean and the neon shirts are filed away till next year and you’re left with the bare-bones components of your life: What you do, who you do it with, wants, needs, fears.
Fall down. Fall over. Fall in. Fall out.
Give me five things you love.
Give me five things you hate.
How many of us do what we want to do? Not in a grand sense – am I being all that I can be? have I reached my ultimate potential? (which is also important) – but in a day-to-day sense. When you work out, are you doing it because you want to or because you thing you should? If you have something to say, do you say it? The people who usually disappoint you can surprise you; the people you depend on can fail miserably. Is this okay with you?
Maybe I’m just saying this because this past weekend was one of the most weekend weekends in the history of my life – professionally, socially, alcoholically, financially, culinarily, sexually, geographically, semantically…you get it – or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve ingested 750 mL of lusciously light and velvety Pinot Noir (elixir of the gods – no joke). Maybe it’s the Long Poetry we’ve been doing in school – cosmopolitanism in the form of elongated poetry, musings on urban living in war time.
Or maybe it’s just fall.