Crispy leaves crunching on the way to the bus stop, cool mornings, and stiff notebooks next to sharpened pencils ready to write beside new classroom friends. These are the obvious things to love about Fall.
A farewell to lazy mornings with 10am breakfasts, evenings at the pool while it’s still hot and bright at 8pm, and forgetting what day it is. These are the obvious things to mourn as Summer fades in the rearview mirror.
The beginning of Fall marks the passing of time rivaled only by the end of another school year.
Thump, thump. My heart.
Tick tock. The clock.
Swish swish. The calendar.
9th grade had just started the year I didn’t know what to tell my friends about my mom no longer living in our house. My youngest brother, on my lap while my mother confessed in the living room “But I love him.”
“Is she crying?” he said.
“I think she’s laughing,” I said, and turned up the volume of MASH that I’d turned down to better hear mere minutes before.
“Don’t tell anybody,” I said. My friend Carol told everybody and shame perched proudly on my lunch tray for weeks in the cafeteria. It thrived with the stares while I shrunk from them, hot and embarrassed.
I got suspended for ditching class and walking barefoot in the hall.
Back then, school deans had paddles displayed on their walls as a reminder of the punishment no longer allowed but still preferred.
Today, they’d be sued for that shit.
I had the most strict of deans. Everybody agreed, except for my dad.
40 hours of hard labor in the garden and yard, a few spaghetti and Burger King dinners and some butt jokes later, things were back to normal. I got smarter about ditching class.
“I think I have the puking disease,” he said. I didn’t say “for f*ck’s sake” out loud and instead took his temperature, showed him the thermometer, and told him if he felt ill once he got to school, that I’d come and pick him up.
I didn’t get a call from the nurse, but later, in the quiet glow of his night light and bedtime, he told me why he thought he might have the puking disease.
“I have the same behavior,” he said.
“Last year, my teacher. She told me she likes me but doesn’t always like my behavior. It’s still the same so my second grade teacher won’t like me either.” He sighed.
I didn’t cry.
Told him his new teacher would love him.
Thought about home schooling. About teachers and about life.
Nine years ago right now, I married my husband. I met him online, and we emailed for a month before meeting. Talked on the phone. He gave great email. Still has a super-sexy voice.
Both of us no longer young, but not old, a little wounded and wary.
I told him on our third date to leave if he wasn’t willing to have a baby with me. He’d been there before, after all.
And I was old enough to to not wonder and worry, but to say. I wanted a baby.
He said yes to the baby.
I said yes to the ring.
Back then, I didn’t know what the future held as we hiked in Kauai. I didn’t know how stupid it was that I felt fat then either.
He gave me my little boy. Seven years and almost three months ago right now, I gave birth to my baby, who becomes less of a baby more each day.
“What’d you do in school today?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “But it was good.”
“Daddy got you flowers,” he says. “Because you got married.” “That’s right!” I said, happy that he remembered.
“I’d marry you except you’re married to Daddy and my wife will have shinier skin,” he says.
“Nothing,” I say. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” he says.
I forget my not-shiny-enough skin and remember prayers that he’d talk one day. That I’d hear and say “I love you.”
I may have cried.
Like Tamara‘s written about recently, the song “When September Ends” by Greenday is in my head and on my playlist. “Seven years has gone so fast. Wake me up when September ends…”
Maybe we’re always becoming who we are. Each September.
Fall, with its sharpened pencils, new classroom friends, squeaky shoes and crunchy leaves are the obvious reasons to love this season.
Another summer in my rearview mirror, a wave goodbye to lazy mornings and late breakfasts, and nights at the pool are the obvious reasons to mourn the most recent season gone.
My not-so-little little boy’s tales from school and shiny-skinned girls and a wedding anniversary are reminders that whether I mourn gone days or flip them the bird, they’re in the rearview.
They’re the reminder that the clock will tick, the calendar will swoosh, my heart will thump whether I look forward or look back.
Fall seems to be a time to do both.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “What I love (or hate) about Fall…”