During the past few years, fall stopped being the detested thoroughfare to winter and has established itself as a cult favorite in the arena of seasons. While some longtime fall fans lament that loving fall has become a shallow seasonal pastime marked by predictable Instagram posts of riding boots and mostly empty Starbucks cups that once contained a pumpkin spice latte with extra whipped cream, I’m not so quick to judge. I think that maybe we all reach a point in our lives when we connect with fall—its mutability and its melancholy—in a way that’s different than the other seasons. As someone who’s always felt inspired by fall, I’ll forever be of the opinion that a little autumnal appreciation never hurt anybody, even if the availability of an overpriced seasonal beverage is what prompts it.

Allegedly "I" wouldn't fit, which is strange because it's the thinnest letter in the alphabet.
Allegedly “I” wouldn’t fit, which is strange because it’s the thinnest letter in the alphabet. Can we also talk about how I was a weird looking baby?

In our younger years, we spent so much time discussing arbitrary favorites: our favorite number, favorite color, or favorite animal. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, discussing the pros and cons of all four seasons in elementary school was practically a prerequisite for survival. What I remember most about those lessons about the seasons was how unabashedly biased the illustrations were. Winter looked like the inside of an enchanted snowglobe that you’d shake and wind the bottom of until your fingers were sore. Spring featured a cluster of jovial rainclouds watering a patch of thankful tulips. A beaming sun wearing sunglasses and an expertly engineered sandcastle characterized summer. Meanwhile, fall was illustrated by a bunch of dead trees and a scary jack-o’-lantern. Even the images seemed to say, “If you like the season where everything dies, there must be something wrong with you.”

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

It seems masochistic to connect with something as transient as a season, but fall might have been my first love, and it wasn’t just because candy corn satisfies my sweet tooth in a way that chocolate ice cream never will. Nostalgia always seems so convenient during fall, like it’s the ideal time to squeeze in a little wistfulness while your tan lines fade. Home sweet home is at its truest in autumn. You can stay in with a quilt and good book and not feel like you’re missing out on the sand between your toes and the sun freckling your shoulders. The days get shorter and sweeter like the honey that oozes into the teacup that’s warming your cold hands. Earl grey and argyle. Chamomile and cashmere.

You see the trees dipped in their gold and bronze, and it’s hard to imagine who voted green the official color of envy. After running on the humidity heavy fumes of sunscreen and charcoal, the autumn air sets your lungs ablaze as much as the foliage. It’s sacramental in a way that could bring you to your knees—the way it once did when you landed in piles of leaves that were bigger than you were.

Maybe loving fall isn’t a trend so much as it’s a rite of passage. At certain points in the seasons of our lives, fall just feels the most honest. If fall becomes our truth, summer feels naïve—a season of sunshine and whims that feels disingenuous to us. Fall makes us contemplative. We want to learn something from fall. We see how easily everything around us can change, and we see our own lives. We want autumn to be a metaphor for our existence, signifying that parts of us can die for a little while only to come alive again more beautiful and more resilient than they were before. We want to pretend we’re phoenixes that can survive the inferno and rise from the ashes.

And maybe sometimes buying those pumpkin spice lattes or wearing those brown leather riding boots or placing an unnecessary emphasis on having fun at the pumpkin patch is the nervous way we forget everything fall makes us feel for a little while, because it’s real and it’s galvanizing, but it’s still a little scary.

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6 thoughts on “Feeling Feelings About Fall

  1. Beautifully written. Autumn is a very contemplative season, it is my favorite season of the year mostly for the reasons you mentioned (nothing to do with pumpkin spice latte but that’s a nice cherry on the top) but it is bitter sweet for me as well because it’s a time for introspection and focusing on things I am not happy with about myself….which can suck. Then moving forward to planning how to make changes. Fall is an amazing time of year for the earth and the spirit. Plus, costumes and spooky stuff is fun. 😛

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