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.)

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.

(Really) Real Estate

In March 2010, when I was 26 years old, I bought a house. It seems like such a bonkers decision to me now, but at the time, it made perfect sense. I wanted to move out of my apartment, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I could afford a house for not much more than my rent. (Oh, Springfield! God bless your reasonable cost of living!) I had a good job that was not far away. I had a serious boyfriend, and we had made plans.

photo (8)A lot of things have changed since then, as they do. I moved into my current place last summer, but I didn’t find any takers for my lovely little house. So here we are four years after I bought it, and I’m more than ready to be rid of the mortgage and memory-baggage associated with 2502 N. Campbell.

Summer’s supposed to be prime house-selling time, so for two more months, I’m trying one final push before I resort to renting.

It really is a great little house.

I could tell you all sorts of things that were wonderful about the time I lived there. Owning a home, MY home, by myself, as a single gal. Nothing like it! It’s the big things like painting the walls or throwing parties, and the small things like the little cat door leading to the laundry room or the left-hand doorknob that turned the wrong way and always, always confused people.

pianoI could tell you about the Ozarks springtime tornado warnings, huddled with my cat in her Pet Taxi, while KY3 newscasters told me what to make of the ever-greening sky. The particular bad-weather nervousness that I only felt inside the home that I owned. 

Or the 30 Rock finale party, where one of my lovely friends actually made Cheesy Blasters (thanks Meat Cat!), following the sing-song instructions: You take a hot dog, stuff it with some jack cheese, fold it in a pizza: And you’ve got Cheesy Blasters! They were wonderful. And awful.

The singularly grown-up thrill of purchasing my own absurdly expensive washer and dryer that looked like outer-space machines.

All that was worthwhile. But there are plenty of memories I’d be content to move away from and permanently close the door. It feels melodramatic but it’s also just true: I can’t help but associate the house with the relationships that ended when I lived there. (Counting only official, capital-R “relationships” that ended: There were three.) R.I.P. R.I.P. R.I.P.

The moments of overwhelming sadness while I was moving (brief, but unpleasant) took me by surprise. While boxing up my life there, I opened up forgotten feelings.

photo (5)Like that first “I love you,” after the first time “we” had people over. Or was it before? Couldn’t tell you for sure. But I could tell you where I was standing (at the sink), what he was wearing (a light blue sweater), how he acted (gravely serious) and how I felt (caught off guard).

Or, with that other person, who expressed his feelings in different, while still meaningful, terms when he told me: “I need you to know I’m about to poop in your house for the first time.” (A significant moment in the life of any couple, we can all agree.)

Or with this other one, as we sat across from each other on my bed, exhausted and numb from one-too-many last straws. When he said, “I just want you to be nice to me.” And I said, and meant, “I don’t want to.” (You’ve seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, yes?)

Criminy.

So you should buy my house, is what I’m saying. You seem like the sort of person who’s ready to make some new memories of your own.

Did I mention the kitchen cabinets?
And the spacious backyard?