I’ve never loved fall. I’ve always thought of autumn as a season of endings. Love, freedom, and bare feet give way to school supplies, responsibilities and heating bills. I close my windows to keep out the cold and abandon my near-daily walks. The farmers’ market shifts from tomatoes and berries to squash and eggplant and eventually shuts down altogether. People are busier, more anxious, and more worried about the future. Every four years, autumn is swallowed up by vitriol-filled presidential elections that leaves half the country dejected and the other half tauntingly victorious. Fall is a melancholy season.
My grandma’s birthday was on the first day of autumn. She loved the changing trees and chilly air. She used to say that there was nothing quite like Boston in the fall. She’d visit my aunt there every year in September or October and come back with a digital camera overflowing with pictures of leaves that I would click through while I sat at the kitchen table and listened to her remembrance of her trip. It doesn’t seem like it’s been five years that she’s been gone, but a lot has changed since the last time I talked to her. I’m not the shy fifteen-year-old girl that she knew back then.
I think about her more in the fall. I still occasionally pull out the last birthday card she gave me, signed in her big, loopy handwriting, and telling me how grown-up I was. Looking back, I know I wasn’t grown up at all. I’ve changed a lot since 2008, but she hasn’t had the chance to. In my mind, she exists as she did before her diagnosis: pale blue eyes shining through the thick glasses needed to correct the lazy eye that I inherited. She told me where her favorite spots to see the leaves were, but I rarely visited them.
Autumn has never been my favorite season. I’ve always resented the slowly fading greenery, the slippery dead leaves coating the sidewalk, the sudden and unexpected coolness outside when I woke up early. At the earliest sign of a chill in the air, I would pull out my sweaters and jeans and wool socks and glower at the goosebumps that rose on my arms when I stepped outside. The golden hue of sunlight unique to autumn days and summer evenings only reminded me that it would soon be replaced by impenetrable gray skies.
I would wrap myself in blankets to do my homework and eat too much Halloween candy. Getting out of bed became a chore. Little things set me off far more than they should have. A missed bus, a stubbed toe, a forgotten assignment: these were the sorts of things that could ruin my day. In September, I dreaded October. In October, I dreaded November. I was convinced that nothing was worse than November. At least winter is transparent about how miserable it is. Fall likes to pretend that it’s a good thing. I rushed from class to class with my head ducked against the cold and my hands jammed angrily into my pockets.
This fall has been different. For the first time, I’ve been watching the fall colors with the wonder that I usually reserve for springtime’s flowering crabapples and redbuds. I’ve enjoyed seeing the ombré-ed trees slowly reveal their skeletal frames. I am awestruck, not depressed by the yellow and red patchwork that is visible from the eleventh floor of the hospital where I volunteer. The fat, anxious squirrels that are so prevalent around here make me laugh instead of scowl.
Admittedly, I haven’t been completely won over. I’m still affected by the shorter days and colder weather. I still wear blankets around the house and eat too much chocolate. The angst and depression that creeps up on me every year around this time is here, and I won’t be entirely free of it until around April. I still hate being constantly cold and the persistent cough that comes with this drier weather. I haven’t yet been transformed into a lover of all things fall. You won’t find me playing in leaf piles while clutching a pumpkin spice latte between my fingerless-gloved hands. However, I might just be found inside my favorite coffee shop, sitting by the window, wearing two sweaters, a scarf and a hat, and watching the leaves fall with a smile on my face.
I really have been sucking at this whole blogging thing lately. Even though it seems like I’m busy all the time, summer has made me lazy. While it’s true that I’m taking 5 hours of class and working in a lab for the summer and trying to have a social life, I do have a lot of free time. Unfortunately, I’ve been spending far too much of that free time sitting at home staring into my laptop’s screen. I’m not sure why I do it. It’s not like I’m doing anything important or interesting on the computer. For the most part, I’ve been browsing Buzzfeed, Thought Catalog and Google News. It’s really an incredibly, terribly boring existence. I shouldn’t keep it up, but I can’t help myself. Even though I tell myself that I want to do something, anything, I still find myself plopped down on the couch… or my bed… or at the kitchen table… mindlessly gaping at a computer screen. I hate that I do it, but I can’t seem to stop.
Well, a few weeks ago, I did do something other than stare at a computer screen. Unfortunately, because I spent the next few weeks staring at a computer screen again, I haven’t posted about it.
The something that I did a few weeks ago was a just-before-sunrise bike ride. Even though I rarely see the early morning (unless I’m still awake from the previous night), I really love sunrises. There’s something magical and beautiful about waking up with the birds and watching the morning’s light spread across the sky. It’s really exhilarating to be awake before almost anyone else (of course, you can get the same feeling when you’re on a college campus on a Saturday at 9 am, but that’s beside the point).
When I went on my early morning bike ride, I (of course) brought my camera to see what I could capture. Here are a few shots from that morning:
I wrote this after a grey, rainy day on campus that I spent almost completely alone.
Loneliness is a hard knot at the back of your throat and a persistent ache in your chest.
Loneliness is getting dressed and walking to the farthest coffee shop on campus, just so you can hear another person’s voice. It doesn’t matter that all you’ll say is “Can I get a small iced coffee?” and “thanks.” Ninety seconds of human contact is better than nothing. The coffee doesn’t drown the lump in your throat and you walk out, wondering what you should do now.
You cross the street and wander into a part of town you’ve never visited. Admiring the ivy-covered houses and slightly decrepit apartment buildings, you imagine living there. You’d probably have a cat. And friends.
While you’re thinking about friends, you pull out your phone to see if anyone’s texted you. They haven’t. You text everyone you might possibly want to hang out with. “What are you up to?” You put your phone back in your pocket and continue walking.
Loneliness is pulling your phone out of your pocket twenty minutes later and seeing that only two people responded. They’re both busy. Loneliness is the blurriness behind your eyes as you pause to reply, “Never mind.”
You walk back home.
Loneliness is spending two hours cleaning your kitchen, even though no one’s going to see it. While you’re cleaning, you think up imaginary conversations with the friends who probably aren’t going to visit you and the neighbors you haven’t met yet. By the time you’ve finished, you’ve chipped your nail polish, rubbed your hands raw, and sweated through your shirt.
Loneliness is sitting on the floor, drenched in sweat, and eating cookies. When the cookies are gone, you open one of the books that you bought yesterday. You read it straight through and feel empty when you’ve turned the last page.
Loneliness is sitting at the kitchen table of your hot, sticky apartment and eating leftovers for dinner. You check Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and your email, knowing that nothing’s changed since you checked them three hours ago.
Loneliness is spending your Friday night alone in your apartment, watching The Hunger Games off of a questionably legal website. When the movie is over and the credits are rolling up the screen, you walk out onto your balcony. It’s raining out, so you spend a few minutes basking in the damp, fragrant air.
You go back inside and open up your computer. The clicking of the keys echoes through the dark room as you mindlessly browse the internet. You’ll be up until your vision blurs and your eyelids start to droop, when you’ll collapse onto your bed and fall into a dreamless stupor.
Loneliness is a deserted campus, an empty apartment, a hollow chest.
I’ve been fascinated with colorful hair for quite a while now. For the longest time, the only people I ever saw with colored hair were punky teenagers or “scene” kids. Even though I was never really part of that group, I was always secretly jealous of their rainbow hairstyles. Even though it didn’t really fit in with the whole white-girl-from-the-suburbs look, I really wanted rainbow hair. However, I wasn’t nearly rebellious enough to ask my parents if it was ok, so I had light brown hair all through high school.
Recently, colorful hair has become much more mainstream (and socially acceptable). Hipsters all over are dyeing portions of their hair in all colors of the rainbow. Here are a few of my favorites…
I’ve been thinking about dying my hair like this for a while and on Friday the stars aligned. My roommate and I decided not to go out and were sitting around, trying to come up with something to do. Obviously, we decided to run to Walgreens, pick up some hair dye (and snacks, duh), and dye our hair. She went with black, and I picked out the brightest blue I could find. I think it turned out pretty well. I’m still experimenting with hairstyles, but I really love it so far!
I used Splat Rebellious Colors Complete Hair Kit, in “Blue Envy” from Walgreens. It can be found online here or in stores.
Tips and Tricks:
Even though the dye package says to leave the dye on for only an hour, I decided to wrap up my hair and sleep with the dye in. This’ll make the color last longer without fading.
Don’t wear a shirt you actually care about. Mine now has blue splattered all over.
Don’t shampoo right after dyeing. You want to give the dye at least some time to set.
The color will continue to run for at least a few shampoos after you dye it. I only dyed my hair a few days ago, so I’m not sure how long it’ll take to stop dripping colors when wet.
Oh yeah, and have fun. I guess that’s pretty important too.