Fall Forward

This morning. It happened. I felt it happen.

FALL.

Lying in bed, awake at 7:00 a.m. for no good reason on a Saturday (Sorry, friends with kids. We all make our choices. I may die alone eventually, but by god, right now I’ll sleep in if I want to!), I took a conscious moment to soak up the early morning sunshine and sink deeper into my covers while I could feel the less-than-50 chilliness outside.

In other words, I put my phone down and just was. This felt good. Unfortunately, it also felt a little unusual. Like revisiting a forgotten landmark from childhood. “Stillness,” my weary brain rejoiced, “Oh yeah! This is what that feels like.”

FALL.

For many reasons, my favorite time of year. Sweaters. Pumpkin donuts. Candles. Leaves changing. Fall festivals. Halloween. Crisp air. Cider. The start of a new TV season. So many things.

Spring is a time of natural renewal, but fall also feels that way to me too. This year especially, I feel restless for change. I want to put down my bad habits once and for all, and pick up the aspirations that I so want to do but so carefully avoid.

To quote the super-catchy summer anthem: I wanna get better.

FALL.

My favorite time of year, but also a time I dread. Because shorter days signal almost inevitable oncoming gloom. I recognize how melodramatic that sounds, but seasonal sadness can turn me into a hot, hot mess. Lack of sunlight and general cold-weather lethargy can make my private tendency toward melancholy moods more dire.

It’s scary, frankly. To live in your own haunted house.

But this year I wonder whether things could be different. Maybe it works like childhood fear of the dark. If you walk up to your inner darkness and say, “I’m not afraid of you!” does the darkness start to feel less scary? More friendly? Just another part of life, like the light.

It’s worth a try, at least.

I’m reminded of a quote I saw on Pinterest somewhere (which, try though I might, I can’t find attributed to anyone besides a multitude of tumblr pages). It’s probably from some angsty YA novel, but I don’t care:

If they can move on after summer, so can I

So here’s to a better fall, my friends. When life gives you gloom, make gloom-onade. (I fully expect to see that quote on Pinterest someday.)

Believe in the best-case scenario

Went to see a movie by myself last night, and I mean by myself. Straight up the only person in the theater. Not too surprising for a little-known indie rom-com on a Sunday night in Springfield. This means I could laugh out loud and (cry? who cried?! not me!) and scribble notes on my phone without disturbing a soul. I did catch myself making audible “oh that’s cute”-type sounds, more than once. And I sure did scribble notes. I love that feeling of “oh boy! I feel a blog post coming on!” though I feel it less and less these days…

Longtime readers of the blog know how much I loves me a good romantic comedy (and just how hard they are to come by in a post-Nora-Ephron world. Hell, even bad romantic comedies are hard to come by anymore). This little movie was a total delight. A romantic comedy that is both romantic and funny. Think When Harry Met Sally meets Garden State. Can-men-and-women-just-be-friends? meets twee twenty-somethings and a very of-the-moment soundtrack. Guys. Just sign me up.

It was refreshing to watch a movie in which not a single thing blows up—besides interpersonal drama, of course. Don’t get me wrong: I did very much love Guardians of the Galaxy. But come on, Hollywood. There is a whole world of material outside of comic books and trilogies. This was easily the best rom-com I’ve seen in a long time. Now, I don’t know whether it was actually a good movie or just happened to be what I needed right now. But I don’t think it really matters either way.

Isn’t that at least 50% of a good movie experience? The way in which it meets you in your life, wherever you are right now? It felt funny to watch this movie, now 10 years after I first watched Garden State, noticing how 20-something romance feels a little faint and distant to me. Like looking through a Facebook album from 2007, familiar but a definite glimpse into the past.

Garden State: I can still remember how I felt, sitting in Campbell 16, watching the scene when Natalie Portman and Zach Braff “shout into the abyss” (…GIANT eye roll) and then kiss in the rain (come on!) while Simon & Garfunkel play and Peter Sarsgaard (Hey, remember Peter Sarsgaard?!) looks on. I no doubt described it at the time as “heart explosion,” the pain and pure joy of the very-first moments of being in love.

10 years ago, I was 21 and starting my junior in college. Three years into an on-again, off-again relationship with my high school boyfriend, My First Real Boyfriend, the first boy I ever loved. (Yeesh. Guys. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Feelings that intense at that age…so dangerous.) At the same time, I was in the midst of the very-early stages of another romance, a friend who was an RA with me in my co-ed dorm. We shared an enthusiasm for dorky residence hall shenanigans, The Office (British version—Jim & Pam didn’t exist yet), and the Garden State soundtrack. It wouldn’t be long until he became My Second Real Boyfriend.

Those two relationship timelines collided in ways of which I am not proud, 10 years later. But that’s life and that’s love and that’s being YOUNG. Every romantic comedy has its equal share of tragedy, right?

What If

When Harry (Potter) Met This Girl

So back to What If. Take in this little exchange, won’t you:

Wallace: In fairy tales, love inspires you to noble and courageous. But in real life, love is just an all-purpose excuse for selfish behavior.
Chantry: I don’t know if you are actually cynical or just a super-crazy romantic cheese ball.

And that, my friends, is exactly what I am. Always on the verge of an eye-roll and waiting for the shoe to drop, but with a crunchy romantic center ever-present beneath my cynical candy shell.

After the mistakes I’ve made, and the mistakes that have been made to me, it takes all my willpower not to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction from any potential happiness. Because I’ve seen the flip side of that coin. And I think it gets harder every time when things don’t go well. Because I’ve also gotten better every time; I’ve better figured out how to love and be loved. And how not to.

After a full decade of good beginnings and eventual breakups, you start to wonder whether it’s worth it to even think about trying again.

But in spite of myself, a movie like this can still make me want to, as a character says to our young hero at one point in his just-friendship with the girl he looooves, believe in the best-case scenario.

That’s why we keep watching movies like this, after all. In spite of so much evidence to the contrary (lookin’ at you, Katherine Heigl), every once in a while, one turns out to be just exactly what you need.

 

best worst idea

Just went running in the rain — yes, on purpose — and it really is the best worst idea. Not crazy / lightning / downpour style rain, of course. Just a nice little summer-night sprinkling.

And, man, it feels good!

Skittish about damaging my iPhone, I didn’t bring along any music. I hardly ever run without headphones now, but once upon a time, it was all I knew. I even ran my first half-marathon that way (2 whole hours, guys! how? why??) and it was my fastest time so far, funnily enough.

Something about falling into the trance of the rhythm of my breath. Letting my mind wander where it wants to, without the helpful distraction of songs or podcasts. It’s meditation. (And can also be maddening, don’t get me wrong. Have you noticed how little time you spend alone with just your own thoughts? It’s a jungle in there!)

Within minutes I was transformed back to high school, in my earliest running days, looping the u-shaped pavement of our neighborhood, with nothing to listen to but my feet on the ground and the air in my lungs. (Didn’t have a Discman. Those things were bulky, awkward, and still skipped. We can all admit this now. It’s time.)

I started running back then to “stay in shape” (hahahahaha. Shut UP, perpetually size-4 high-school me. Shut your DAMN. MOUTH.) and I got the bug for real my junior year of college, which is also the first time I ran with an iPod. A bulky, first-gen brick-sized item by comparison now, and I had to carry it because I didn’t have an arm band or anything, but it was a revelation. (Didn’t hurt that it was my boyfriend’s iPod. Is there anything better than a little voyeuristic love-drunk music-snooping? The Garden State soundtrack was in heavy rotation that year, I can tell you that much.)

photo (5)

There’s something so nice and freeing about a little rainy-day run. Leaving the house knowing I’m going to get rained on. Doing it anyway. When I first started running and writing about it, I was constantly finding little metaphors for life. I can’t help it! They’re right there! Tonight’s would be something along the lines of: Don’t always shy away from the potentially messy or uncomfortable things. Those things can also end up being the most peaceful and fulfilling, and almost always a better decision than staying inside.

And also puddles. Puddles are also fun.