Living

The highs and lows of Autumn: Autumn and all its trappings leave this one cold

Beth Anderson at age 4, with a costume-covering coat and a face to match the season's gloom.
Beth Anderson at age 4, with a costume-covering coat and a face to match the season's gloom.

It’s these “ber” months that get me.

September. October. November. December. A depressing parade of weeks that get progressively dimmer and colder. A season chock-full of holiday after hyped-up holiday that make me feel like I should be having more fun and feeling much more “family togetherness” than I ever actually do.

The world closes in on me in the fall. The sky feels lower. Clothing gets heavier and the added layers — even socks — feel claustrophobic. These days, I have access to down and polar fleece, but growing up outside Chicago, the season meant itchy wool blazers (usually in depressing colors like forest green or burgundy) and polyester-filled puffy jackets that restricted movement but never really kept me warm.

And the gray. Everything just feels gray in the fall. Yes, I know about “fall color,” but for me it has never negated the overwhelming feeling of death and decay that this season brings.

Bad things happen in the fall. I’m 99.9 percent sure that I was stalked one fall by a paroled rapist who turned out to be a serial killer.

My only two big breakups happened in the fall, the first a perfectly-timed sucker punch two days after unexpectedly getting laid off from my first “real” post-college job. As I sat there with him lamenting what to do next, he said (way too casually), “Well, don’t plan anything around me.” And that was the end. Go fall!

September 11. Need I say more? That was a depressing fall.

I endured failed fertility treatments in the fall. Facing the very real possibility that you will never have the child you always assumed you would is depressing enough. Doing it during the gloom of fall, surrounded by babies at every holiday party you attend? Torture.

On a positive note, when my post-failed fertility treatment, spontaneous, urban legend-style pregnancy resulted in an August, “summer” baby rather than the September one that was predicted, it made the miracle feel that much more miraculous.

But all these holidays? I’ve just never really “felt” them.

As a kid, I played along — minimally — with the Halloween thing each year, dressing up in a random, last-minute costume that I didn’t really care about. But I don’t think I’ve ever carved a pumpkin. Haunted houses never really scared me. (I’m supposed to be scared when I already know you’re going to try to scare me? Really?) The only worthwhile activity was trick-or-treating for hours and stockpiling (for free!) enough candy to last until the following Easter.

And the other “ber” holidays are really no better. Thanksgiving? Eh. Food. Big deal. Like a glorified Sunday dinner. And forced, switched-on thankfulness.

Christmas? I can’t remember ever decorating a Christmas tree. I may have hung an ornament or two, but I usually lived with people who actually liked to decorate, and I was happy to leave them to it. When I lived alone, I just never bothered.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, do you know what I’m really celebrating? That fall is finally behind me, I survived it and now I can start looking forward to the white cotton, bare-legged sandal-wearing days of spring.

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