autumn: a moodboard

autumn: a moodboard

Akshara Taraniganty

there comes a day late september when you wake up craving a pumpkin spice latte. there is a slight wind blowing outside, and the leaves are just starting to change color. your friends ask you if you want to hang out with them in the park, but you turn down their plans in exchange for a quiet afternoon reading contemporary romances in the treehouse you and your grandfather built several years ago. you look out the window at the warm tones of the leaves and the sweaters that your neighbors have on, and something about the air feels different. 

you are living in the present, but there is a taste to the air and an undertone to the music that plays in your head that makes you feel that you are living in the past. you are seeing yourself as someone you were, somewhere in the middle of first and second person, your soul half a step out of your body. every day that passes feels like it happened a year ago, and there is something about the food you eat and the catchphrases you use and the friends you make that feels like you are existing in a specific moment in time, and you will look back at this fall and experience the same emotions as you are feeling now, and they will pierce you in unexplainable ways, not because you are sad but because of the specificity at which you feel. 

as the weeks pass, and sporadic pumpkin spice lattes become daily study sessions at the coffee shop, the idea of halloween starts to surface. you take your little brother to the costume store, and each time he smiles, you ache for that careless happiness which used to be yours. he wants to be peter pan this year, and you are at the cash register swiping your credit card as he clutches the costume to his chest. you think back to when you were his age and you were adamant on being a vampire or ghost or zombie, never remembering that halloween was supposed to be fun more than anything. it is such a peculiar thing, you think — dressing up for one day, going to people’s houses in costumes, and asking for candy. but it is the one day where you are not defined by the person you are. your brother is not the boy in the peter pan costume, he is peter pan. you were not the kid in the vampire costume, you were the vampire. for one day, you can be anything. for one day, your identity succumbs to your imagination. 

the pumpkin patches of october make their way to the cornucopias and turkey and scarves of november, and in a matter of weeks, your family packs their bags and drives up north to your grandfather’s lakehouse. your family sits down in your grandfather’s living room, laughing and playing a game of scrabble — your mother wins; she has a way with words — and it’s almost as if you should be bored; you are too old for your brother and his cousin, but too young for the adults. however, you are happy. you spend you time sketching and thinking and sometimes doing homework. you take your cousin and brother out to the lake and watch them swim. sometimes, you go fishing with your grandfather and parents. on thanksgiving day, your family sits around the dinner table, lined with turkey and potatoes and salad, and you think of the friends you’ve made and the family you have, and your heart surges with gratitude. 

but before you sleep, you think of the thanksgiving dinner with your ex last year and shopping with your best friend two years ago, and you realize that you talk to neither of them anymore. the two memories have the same warm glow to them, but remembering them is a different experience, almost as if they are different colors of the same memory. you realize that in six months, this perfect moment will be nothing but a faintly glowing memory, and the people you love the most now will fade into only an echo. suddenly, even though you are surrounded by your favorite people, loneliness clouds your head. you stare at the ceiling of your grandfather’s guest bedroom, and suddenly you are scared of leaving this specific moment. 

because your classes are growing harder and harder and your crush is angry at you for leaving them on delivered and finals week is approaching and in three weeks you will be let out of school again and it will start to snow and the year will change. you are not ready for time to continue to move forward. you are not ready for things to matter again. you are not ready for the comfort and warmth of this fall to turn into subzero temperatures and all-nighters. the perfection of these two months was an illusion, you realize, and maybe you will always romanticize fall because winter is harsh and spring is overly cheerful and summer is just so sweaty, but fall is its own emotion. this fall, like last fall and the fall before that, is going to soon become a distant memory, an unseen color and ghost of a feeling that you will revisit just to experience this feeling again.

your eyelids start to sag, and as you sleep, you think of the bubble of time you created, full of family visits and new friends and coffee dates and peter pans, and for the first time, you see this fall as if it has already passed. there is a sense of melancholy to the happiness you just relived. you don’t know where it is from and why it is there, but as you drift to sleep, you realize that not all feelings need understanding, and this autumn feels best without any.