Road trip

In the Garden State the trees had caught fire, redder than I'd ever seen them. We drove through the center of the state, near where Washington and his troops crossed, through roads I spent my college years unmapping. See, it can be beautiful here, I said. See, see?

Sometimes it feels very important to me, showing off my home state's natural curves.

There were flocks of birds on our way, each of them fighting the wind. I became immensely devoted to rooting for them. They beat their wings, furious. Under my breath I'd murmur encouragements. They tried so hard to stay ahead of nature, to stay above the burning trees. They were so brave, those birds.

We stayed in a house on a golf course. We got lost. When we finally found it, it was empty, but our names were on an envelope inside the foyer. (It all felt very The Westing Game.) Outside, the trees were less on fire and more roasting, mostly oranges and yellows instead of reds; like how the tips of broccoli curl up and turn dark when the oven is too hot. It was somewhere between afternoon and evening, when the sky is more white than any other color.

This is fall, I realized. This is this particular autumn. Mark it.




Tonight I saw some leaves fall, the first of the season, and I tucked myself deeper into my jacket and laughed out my excitement. It's autumn, my favorite precursor to my favorite season. Everyone gets back to business this month; everyone tries to remember what it is they're paid to do. Everyone lets the laziness linger as long as possible, sure, but there's no escaping the lost sunlight, the passing of time, the packed agendas. I had a board meeting tonight and during it I had to remind myself being present is a choice; good ideas sprout from listening. When I came up with something well-received it was like digging up a grave I'd forgotten was buried; a hand reaching up through the dirt. My mom once asked me if I spent my days in meetings, wonder lacing through her words, and when I told her yes, and some nights too, she sighed and said she was jealous; my mom, whose work taxes her muscles and forces a diet of Advil and early bedtimes.

So fall is ringing the bell, and this weekend I'll spend one last weekend on the beach, only it'll be a different beach, in a stunning house with my closest friends for my bachelorette party. In three weeks I'm getting married and I can't wait. I can't wait for the day and I can't wait for my life and I can't wait, honestly, for it all to be over so life can be normal again, so life can be about what's for dinner and who paid the cable bill and where are we going for Thanksgiving and what's on TV instead of crossing things off a spreadsheet. When fall finally settles in here in New York, I'll be away, chasing the sun down south, clinging on to what's left of summer, and I'll return in end-October with a new season of my own.