It's that time of year when the leaves are starting to turn and there is a definite chill in the air. It is Fall, and it actually feels like it, in more ways than one.
I have always loved Fall. Ever since I was 14 and fell in love for the first time, getting my first kiss, my first held hand, my first promise ring. My first high school football game, cuddled under a scratchy, musty blanket on the bleacher with a boy who made my heart pound out of my chest. Removing my retainer surreptitiously in order to kiss with tongue and not plastic. Wearing a borrowed letter jacket that smelled vaguely of smoke and teenage boy. It was so magical and powerful and new to me that I have forever associated this time of year with ... well... magic and power and newness.
But for the past [too many years to count], Fall has disappointed me. The excitement of the first cold front, the joy at pulling out the sweaters, the freedom of open windows, has been tinged with sadness and a feeling of being, well, anything but new. Year after year has gone by without the stomach butterflies I remember so well (although I can bring on simulated butterflies just by remembering the smell of my h.s. sweetheart's parents' van. mmm-hmm.)
The feeling associated with that most-special Fall of 23 years ago was hope. Blind, naive, stupid hope. The kind of hope you have before you've had your heart shredded for the first time. The kind of goofy joy you can only experience once, because after your heart has been shredded, you guard the pieces much more closely. You dole them out carefully, ever-prepared to come back around with a broom and dustpan and collect whatever might be left over from the next broken heart. And through the years, the pieces you are willing to hand out grow smaller. Consciously or not, you begin to only hand out the pieces you deem not as important, the ones you feel you can live without when they don't come back whole. Your capacity to trust is diminished, the spark of belief you used to have in the whole basic concept of love grows dim. You become convinced you will never be able to recapture that feeling of hope, that hope is for the young, for the innocent, for the careless.
But then, when you're least expecting it, when you have literally given up the silly dream of butterflies and blind hope, when you have accepted that your life will be a certain way and that's okay ------ you start to fall.
...to be continued...