When the Leaves Fall

“But the beautiful thing about life, about the seasons, about your sister having kids, is the resilience of it all–it’s knowing that as long as you’re living, there’s always room for things to be born again.”

From “Seven”–a photoshoot inspired by one of Taylor Swift’s new songs

When the Leaves Fall

Fall is the prettiest season–I’ve always thought so. And it felt like Fall today–there’s a few days sprinkled in the dusk of August that always do. The sun was out, the breeze was blowing, and I was swinging on a swing much too vigorously for someone my age. But that’s the beauty of it, I suppose: the second to last season of the year always brings me back to childhood. Every year it’s different, and yet I swear it always stays the same.

From “The Nemophilist” (2020)

It dawned on me that this will be my first fall without the demands of school to pay much mind to, at least since I was very young. I can’t really recall what it felt like before education came and colored it all. Though admittedly, that may be because my first few years of life were spent out in Arizona, in the heart of America’s deserts where the sun seldom changed and the seasons were bent on standing still. I do have some memories, though. Or pieces of memories at least. A princess jacket made of coarse denim and pink, puffy sleeves. Lying on my back under yellow trees and a sea of red sky. Trips to an orchard just a mile or so down the road where we picked pumpkins every year growing up. By fate I actually found myself working there at seventeen in the early months of my senior year. But I quit that same October, and have yet to be back since.

But I think I will go back this year, given now that I have the time, and now that I have nieces of my own: ones two and a half, the other will be seven months in just a few days, both girls. The eldest of the pair is quite adventurous, and so running around in high grass amidst rows of orange-almost-jack-o-laterns seems to be something up her alley. I still remember vividly when she wasn’t here, though that feels quite long ago. Just the thought of her existence at the time was one of the reasons I held on to life at sixteen, and thank God I did. Now, two years and more have already come to pass, and I’m beginning to understand the look of endearing surprise in my gray-haired great-aunts’ faces when they used to pinch my cheeks every Christmas with a gasp and say, “My gosh, how much you’ve grown!” 

Aunthood has probably been the greatest gift I’ve ever received. I’ve gotten to relive the moments in my life that I yearn for the most–the moments that belong to my earlier memories, characterized by childhood glee and whimsy. Back when I had everything while not having anything at all. I guess it’s made me cherish them all a little more now. A lot more, actually. And it’s funny because I was never in a hurry to grow up as a kid. I never slipped on my mother’s high heels and strutted around the house in an attempt to feel grown (well, maybe I did but metaphorically speaking). Yet as I’ve gotten older, it seems I’ve too willingly traded in every bit of youth I have in exchange for any piece of wisdom I could garner. And I regret that now, at times at least, even if that transaction has brought me many gifts and blessed things. 

But the beautiful thing about life, about the seasons, about your sister having kids, is the resilience of it all–it’s knowing that as long as you’re living, there’s always room for things to be born again. I get to have popcorn everyday and watch old Disney movies in my pajamas (more so forced at nerf gun point but hey, I still enjoy it). I can wake up in the morning and decide to treat myself with kindness. And I can look at the side effects of built up resentment and decide that there’s much more dignity in acceptance and compassion then there will ever be in fleeting expressions of anger used as a means of retribution. 

I think there’s a lot of things in our lives we experience angst over: letting go of an “unrealistic” dream, watching a once thriving relationship fade; or maybe you too have let your youth get away from you, or are beginning to lament the person you’ve become. Maybe it’s all that. Or maybe it’s a million other things. But I think regret is such a silly thing to have when there’s things to be done about it. Nothing is ever too far gone, at least that’s what I choose to believe. 

Fall is the prettiest season–I’ve always thought so. And though spring comes in with her vibrant revival and invigorating glory, it will always be her colder counterpart that takes me back, that shows me renewal is possible. Maybe, in an ironic way, watching the leaves fall serves as a reminder that they can grow back again. Maybe it’s witnessing the death of everything around us that makes our hearts realize there had to be life there in order for such a thing to happen in the first place.