Night falls, and the rushing white noise of the freeway drifts in through the window of the corner suite in a breezy, Spanish-style hotel in San Clemente. Morning breaks, and the ocean calls out, crashing waves surrounded by a clear blue rain-washed sky. Between the freeway and the ocean, a sunny, unassuming sidewalk café delivers an epic breakfast sandwich—crispy bacon, sourdough, and cheese—possibly the best of its kind.
Steam rises from a cast iron pot, and the light from the stove shifts and dances on the plumes as they rise, sending the homey smells of a simple meal out into the kitchen. A long time ago, a little girl looked up from her book and watched the shining dust swirling in the air, the particles reflecting light from the window, in a dance that seemed it would never end. Times change, times change, and we can’t go back (we can’t go back, we can’t go back…)
It’s November now. Suddenly. And I find myself this morning, sitting here at my desk, thinking, “I can’t believe October went by so fast.” Truly, it feels like it just… *poof*! Disappeared. Flung itself headlong right off the edge of a cliff. Vanished, leaving nothing but a puff of pumpkin spice behind.
I love October. It’s probably my favorite month. This year, I remember waking up on the first day of October—it felt like a big breath of fresh air when it finally arrived. When I realized it was October, and I took in that first lungfull of “crisp October morning”, something in my chest just opened right up. In that moment, I felt like somehow, everything would be all right.
So… it’s been a really, *really* great year. I have found myself truly happy, in some ways that I didn’t even know I could *be* happy. But the thing is, often when I’m feeling happiest, that’s the time that I’m most likely to find myself thinking about loss and sadness. When I’m happy, I often think about time passing, about the ending of whatever wonderful experience I’m having. When I’m with my loved ones, I hold them close and I think about the inevitability of death, and I wonder how soon it’s coming for them, for me. I worry about car accidents and cancer and even more mundane things like changing life circumstances that cause friendships to fade. And so, this year, with so much happiness, I’ve also had a lot more thoughts about sadness. It’s been interesting and strange.
But October, with its coolness and its morning sunlight that is somehow bright without being harsh… something about it invites you to put on a fuzzy jacket, snuggle up in a blanket, be cozy and comfortable and warm with the people you love, and for a moment, maybe not worry so much about things like that, and instead just enjoy the sound of the leaves rustling, and the feeling of being snuggled up together on an October day.
I feel like I needed October in order to be ready for November, ready for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that are coming so soon now. That breath, after summer, and before the winter. I’m glad I got to feel that October air this year.
And with that, Happy November, everyone.
I just bit into a plum. I’ve eaten several plums in the past few days, but when I bit into this one, it was special. It’s sweet and delicious in this very specific way. When I tasted it, I was immediately transported to a time when the leaves of the walnut tree blew in the wind, when sunshine seemed brighter and fresh berries grew in the backyard. I ate a lot of plums when I was a kid. And for some reason, this plum today tastes just like those plums used to. I see my best friend’s face. Not her current face—her young face. I feel her backyard around me. Shady because of the giant tree. I see her front yard—sunny. No tree there. I hear my mom. I hear my family. Time has not yet become a precious and scarce resource. The hours stretch on endlessly, punctuated by occasional trips to the grocery store. Time to sit and let the sun shine on your face and listen to the breeze blow in the walnut leaves.
I miss that walnut tree. And that friend. And my family. I’m so tired these days.
What a good plum.