The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Ameena Hester.
I was somewhere between wanderlust and weary when it hit me. Or maybe it was August’s gentle nothings of salty air singing through the dock’s worn timber, my eyes saluting the sun. I think it was the cacophony of Purple Martin birds retiring to their nests in English pines, and the Atlantic’s incessant, effervescent kiss with the shore.
A dull ache throbs within me for when all of this turns to umber and earth. The year’s most beautiful wardrobe change; but to miss reveling in its glory! Nothing quite compares to North Carolina in the fall.
This is the place where Octobers are born. The ebb and flow of people with all-too-flushed skin and farmer freckles sown about the bridge of their noses, now succumbing to the finale of summer. Storms clouds turn violet. School children give a unanimous sigh and retire to their beds, insomniacs for wooden pencils and paper cuts. They stomp on fallen leaves in the morning. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes sit like crown jewels in grocery aisles. Coffee in the mountains. Café windows condensate, the air drunk with pumpkin everything. College freshmen hesitantly embrace their parents, not knowing whether to push away or chase them through the dorm hall for one last squeeze.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has a word that encapsulates the feeling: anemoia; ‘Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.’ I ruminate a bit (a little too long). For all the firsts. Going to basketball games on nights I should probably be studying, rushing into the library as an autumn gust of wind numbs my nose, idly chatting about that one professor’s mustache, staying up too late and drinking too much tea. For running into your favorite student athlete on campus, the dissonance of coughs and squeaky chairs in a lecture hall, and emotional calls home.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
I fold back into myself. In just a few weeks, I will experience autumn in a revolutionary new way. Maybe a green autumn! An autumn where leaves don’t fall, and instead flowers bloom, where summer is a run-on sentence. What do those people bundle up with, where I’m going? What drink lays steam drops on their noses every morning? What aromas tiptoe around their kitchens in the evenings? I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not missing out. No. I’m opening up. Soil-bounding my roots and chasing what makes me feel sunlight from the inside out! Dropping leaves occasionally. There will be more Octobers.
I’ll just have to go and see for myself.