Happy September, everyone.
This time of year brings mixed feelings. Relief once the temperatures cool and I can break out my boots and sweaters and hoodies. Excitement for the start of football season. Nostalgia for autumn in Pittsburgh and New England. And annoyance and sadness and fear as I approach the end of the month.
You see, September used to be one of my favorite months of the year. But September was when everything started to fall apart and when I found out my ex was cheating – two days after his birthday, in a month that he also loved – and now the entire month is a constant reminder of him. Wake Me Up When September Ends became my personal theme song. For the past few Septembers, I found myself a mess of conflicting emotions and a constant bundle of nerves.
Already, though, this September has been going better than last September. I’m not that depressed. I’m more fearful of how depressed I might get. I’d like to just skip certain days of the month. I think it helps that I have a goal to strive toward – at the end of the month, I’m going to the Pacific Northwest for the first time, celebrating the wedding of a dear friend, and taking my first real vacation in over two years.
So while this year the depression has been kept at bay, on the other hand, the nostalgia is overwhelming. I miss different places at different times of the year. I wish I was in Paris in the springtime. I strangely miss Washington, DC, in the summertime. It makes no sense because I hated the weather there, but I miss baseball games and cookouts with friends, playing softball on Sunday afternoons, and outdoor happy hours after work.
In the fall, I miss Pittsburgh and New England.
The changing leaves are spectacular in both places – the picture at the top of this post was taken during a hike through Mount Holyoke Park near Amherst – and in both cities, the excitement for sports is overwhelming. In Pittsburgh, it’s Steelers fever after a long, bleak summer free of football. In Boston, it’s a combination of Red Sox playoff excitement and the collective fawning over Tom Brady. (So it’s more than a little amusing to me that, this fall, the Red Sox are playing sub-.500 ball and the Pirates are fighting for a wild card spot. Everything is flipped upside down, fucked up backwards.)
This year I find myself even more nostalgic than normal. My first autumn in Western Massachusetts was also an election year. I got to know new people while debating politics and laughing at Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression. My new friends held a party on election night – which also happened to be our second anniversary, the last one we celebrated on good terms. Some people might laugh at spending your wedding anniversary at a party with 15 other people, drinking wine and watching CNN, but it was a blast. Our new friends, the ones we had met just two months earlier, even got us a cake. I thought we’d have many more anniversaries to celebrate, many more nights to spend with just us – that night was historic, and there was no way I was missing it. Looking back, I’m glad that’s how I spent my last good anniversary – because I have other memories associated with it, good memories, other people. I think we did go out to dinner the next night, but to be honest, I have no idea where we went. So I’m grateful that we did what we did on our actual anniversary, so I at least have some positive memories to hold on to.
So this year, I’m trying to hold on to that. I’m trying to concentrate on all of the things I love about autumn, rather than dwelling on the bad because something happened to take place on a certain day. I love pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider, my camel colored leather jacket and my chocolate colored stiletto boots. I love cool mornings, the kind of weather where you can wear a hoodie, jeans, and flip flops. I love the first Sunday at the bar during football season, finding a collection of yinzers hundreds of miles from home, all simultaneously yelling at Ben Roethlisberger to throw the fucking ball. I love the first dusting of snow of the season, when the trees still have leaves on them, making a beautiful tableau of orange and red and yellow and white.
Things could’ve fallen apart any day of the year. The fact that it did during this month is inconsequential. I think three Septembers spent depressed and angry is three too many. I’m not going to let it happen this time around.
I’ve got football to watch and pumpkin spice lattes to drink. I’m too busy having fun.