Last night after months of anticipation, I got see Florence and the Machine. I drove an hour to Merriweather Post Pavilion–a concert venue I haven’t been to since my early twenties. After a few attempts of finding a good lawn seat with our super comfortable beach chairs, I sunk into my bright stripped beach chair for the first time in a year an a half with an exhale. I had a short plastic cup of Cabernet in one hand, a sea of people around me, an old friend to reminisce with, and the first sign of Autumn’s cool air enveloping me. I turned to my friend and said, “days like this make me want to quit my job.”
Every Autumn since 2004 (the first Fall I spent in NYC), I am filled with nostalgia and dreams of roaming this world completely free. Fall in New York allows you the space to dream impossible dreams, create like never before, and the freedom to be you. I remember walking to school from the Subway with a light Autumn wind making its way through the spaces between my limbs–swaying, dancing, lovingly tugging on my scarf like a puppy asking to play. All my worries, all my fears wiped clean by the images of the yellows, reds, and burnt orange leaves.
Fall is when I suddenly have the need for more freedom, yet it is when I have the least because I am back in school. It is when I want to cook and hike and visit apple orchards and decorate my home and buy the perfect sweater and go to matinees and jaunt off to a B & B somewhere on the coast or in the mountains. There’s something delicious and right that happens to me around this time of the year. My body and mind prepare to be cleaned out from the inside out. This year, I am preparing to let go of some of my old habits by accepting that old habits and new habits can exist side by side within me without injuring my mind or body.
As I begin another school year, I start with my usual goal: to seek balance and let go of the things that I am powerless over like district/state mandates on evaluations, curriculum, testing, posting things on the walls of my classroom, etc. What I know for sure is the girl who holds NYC and its Autumn on such a high pedestal doesn’t have to be locked up when she faces reality. You see in the past, I have known only extremes: the highs of a perfect Sunday morning with champagne cocktails that have tiny umbrellas on top that make me want to be six again and the lows of blaming myself when a class goes poorly. It turns out that both can exist within me side by side and allow balance.
While things that I am powerless over can create fears and frustrations outside of the classroom, I know that when I shut the door behind me and start a class I am exactly where I’m supposed be and doing exactly what I’m supposed to do at that moment. This week I had my students write two types of goals in class. For the first one I demanded that they dream big: “What is something that you really want for your life? Declare it!” Then, I had them zoom-in on how this English Language Arts class, this particular quarter would get them to their big time dream. It was so cool to watch them write their dreams with a glimmer in their eyes. Today as I consider some of their dreams–move to London, become a pro-soccer player, become a lawyer, go to Princeton, become an author–I wonder why as we get older we don’t declare our big dreams.
Therefore, because it is Autumn and I am completely lost by this season, because my students’ glimmer has inspired me, and because in the end it is who I am–a dreamer–I am here to declare it! I would like to be a published fiction writer. Today I am committed to writing fiction once a week.
Dearest Autumn, Thank you for tugging me in the right direction.