When autumn comes, it doesn't ask
It just walks in where it left you last
You'll never know when it starts
Until there's fog inside the glass around
Your summer heart
There are several things about me that make me the odd one out from time to time. One of these is that, unlike many of my friends who are mourning the end of summer, I am celebrating the beginning of autumn. From the time I was very little, I have always loved this time of the year and cherished it as my absolute favorite season. Perhaps as someone who has been a student for the last fifteen years, fall represents new pencils and folders, books that smell oh-so-delicious and are begging to be read, and a fresh start. It's even in the air. It's crisp and cool. Suddenly, your senses pick up on things you never noticed in the summer: the crunch of a leaf underfoot, the smell of apples and bonfires, the light weight of a jacket in the breeze.
For me, there is something about this time of year that manages to bundle the past, present, and future all in one. Don't get me wrong, I have year-long nostalgia, but autumn has a special vibe to it. I look back and think, "Another year has passed? I'm already in high school... a senior in high school? A freshman in college? A senior in college?" (That last one is this year, by the way. And it's hard to imagine I've come this far.) It's a time of re-evaluation. I look back at where I've been and, with a brand new academic year, where I can be going.
September 2002 - My mom, my sister Niki, and my brother Bradford were in Indiana for two months during Bradford's radiation treatment. It was just me, Sarah, and Dad at home. None of us were very proficient in the kitchen, so we ate grilled meat with instant mashed potatoes and canned vegetables for almost every lunch. I can still taste it in my mouth, and in spite of what was going on, I really miss it.
September 2003 - This was my first year back as a full-time student at public school. I wore a plaid skirt my first day at Coldwater High. I spent most of my time working on the musical Godspell.
September 2005 - The beginning of my senior year at CHS.
September 2006 - The beginning of my freshman year at Brigham Young University. (For more on this, go here.)
September 2008 - One year ago, I came back for my junior year at BYU. It had only been one month since my Dad passed away.
It's funny what I remember about last year when I try to think about it. I remember the songs on Renee Olstead's debut album that I would listen to in the morning as I was getting ready for school. I remember the smell of the autumn spice and mulled cider candles we bought for the apartment. I remember the khaki green messenger bag I started taking to campus with me every day. It was the first time I really noticed how amazing the Timpanogos mountains look against the blue sky on a crisp autumn day.
Every year around this time, I make a point to walk by the bell tower. I only went there once my freshman year, yet somehow it emblemizes my experience here at BYU. That night I was wearing a brown courderoy jacket, leaning over the edge of the tower and looking out onto the panorama of campus, and talking with a good friend of mine about literature and camping and family. And I realized that this is where I am supposed to be.
What am I doing right now that I will remember next year?