I miss talking to you. You’re kind of the best to talk to, you know? I’m sure you do. So, I’ll just ramble at you. How’s that?
I bet you’re happy about the chill in the air these days. Sweater weather, and girls in boots. The air is like crisp apples. You grew up here, and it’s so strange to think that you never went through the same sort of season changes that I did. I thought once about people in Alaska, how they see the rest of the world. I thought about people who have never seen the ocean, much as I hadn’t for 27 years, and how there are some people who grew up seeing the ocean, and how such very simple differences are a huge part of who we are.
In the midwest, the fall can start as early as August. The leaves change and everyone talks about how beautiful it is, and the smell of the air is darker and heavier, like dirt settling on dirt settling on dirt that never had a chance to get tilled. Everything feels like it was meant to be tended to at the thaw, but the summer came on too sudden and hot to get around to it. Giant, hand spray-painted signs advertise pumpkins, firewood, hayrides. You can buy local made apple pies at gas stations. There’s one place, an orchard I’ve long forgotten the name of, where you can buy pie that baked in a bag. The bag is made of some kind of wax paper, and baking it in the bag keeps the fruit moist; keeps the fruit’s flavor from flying out into the oven walls; keeps the crust crisp. Once, during a nervous breakdown, I’d driven to this orchard unintentionally. I’d napped in the parking lot while watching families haul pumpkins to their Subarus. When I woke up, I went into their store and bought a pie in a bag, which they then put in a brown paper bag. I couldn’t stop laughing and saying “It’s a pie in a bag in a bag.” I paid for the pie with a check that I knew would bounce. I threw the pie in a ditch on the drive home. Shortly after that I was hospitalized because I’d been found sitting in the dark, using pumpkin carving tools to dig deep into my upper thigh.
I think global warming has maybe changed things, but when I was living there, it was just a matter of a few short months before the autumn in the Midwest turned to winter. This happens in mid to late October. The sky is black by 5:30 pm, the ground is frozen, the windows get covered in plastic or your house will never stay warm. Once it got so cold that a window in our 100 year old apartment shattered. Our landlord didn’t fix the window for a week. And personally, in all that time that leads up to winter, my dread of cold hands and isolation increases to a point that I feel like I might shatter.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I think I expected autumn would never bother me again. The effect isn’t as profound. The dark isn’t as immediate. Things still grow. There is still light. And I have blankets warm enough, and people warm enough. But, it still steps on my heart a little bit. I feel like everything gets further away. I feel like I am distant, and not myself. I feel like I am not anyone at all, and sometimes I can’t get up. And I wait for Spring.
Some Buddhist at some point said that depression is dwelling on the past, anxiety is worrying about the future, and we’re supposed to be living in the present. I’m sure he was right. Buddhists aren’t usually wrong. Or maybe they are. Maybe we only hear about the right stuff they say, kind of like how we only see flattering photos of people and think they’re so photogenic. Maybe there’s a bunch of stuff these Buddhist gurus say that’s absolute horseshit. “If you take a man a bucket of water, you must leave with a bucket of fire.” “That doesn’t make any fucking sense.” “It’s a work in progress.” “No, it’s just stupid. You’re just making up things because they sound cool.”
Anyway, Ted, I miss talking to you. And I hope you’re out there loving all this cold.