The days have rapidly grown colder in the past week. On Sunday, out on Long Island, it was still warm enough to end my morning run at the dock and sit, legs crossed, with my face tilted up to the sun. After a minute of some truly pathetic attempts at vigorous stretching, I took a deep breath and untied my shoes and shimmied down the ladder to dunk my head—whoosh—under the surface of the water, glinting like diamonds in the sunlight. It wasn’t terribly frigid yet, but it was cold enough to make me gasp, scrabbling for the edges of the ladder and climbing out to shake the droplets from my wet hair.
L.M. Montgomery wrote, “I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers” and I couldn’t agree more. As with any change in season, the first few moments whisper new and old at the same time —they’re a shift from the previous weeks, but still so achingly familiar. I feel a stirring around every corner in October, my heart swelling when I step outside to take a run and the air feels as crisp as a brand new dollar bill. I look for autumn everywhere. There’s a little boy beside me in Duane Reade, earnestly eyeing the Halloween candy display. I almost lean down to say, “between you and me, Almond Joy really gets a bad rap” but I’ll let him spend years coveting miniature Snickers and Twix before he reaches that very mature conclusion.
I have to tell you something. And you might want to sit down, and also…grab your calendar (date book? what do people use these days?) and your wallet. Because you will be canceling any plans you have and going straight to the store to buy canned pumpkin and whole wheat flour. (I’m assuming your kitchen is already well-stocked with chocolate chips at all times and if it isn’t, then GO TO THE STORE ANYWAY AND BUY SOME. Life demands an emergency stash of dark chocolate chips, and if you haven’t learned that tip by now, I’m very glad you’re here to hear it from me.)
The first few weeks of September could easily wear the crown of my favorite of the year. The air is cooler in the mornings; it’s not quite crisp yet, but it’s getting there. I wear a long-sleeved shirt on my early morning runs, but it’s warm enough that I strip down to a tank top as soon as I enter the park and jog onto the main path. Once out of the shade of the tree-lined edges of the park, sunshine floods the road ahead and I feel a light sheen of sweat on my skin.
Well, it’s been a minute hasn’t it? I won’t bore you with the usual routine of I meant to sit down and write every day for the past month, but then I went to the beach and accidentally spent four hours paddleboarding in the sun or I started to tell you all about this incredible cookie recipe but then I got distracted eating all the cookie dough off the spoon with a friend in the kitchen as we debated the relative merits of every season of Friends.
I’m sitting in a plastic chair outside the terminal A gates at Newark airport. It’s chilly inside; the recycled air feels both stale and cold. It’s barely 7 AM. The early morning energy at the airport is nice—despite not being my top choice of places to sit, I like the bustle of travel around me. At this time of day, people aren’t yet harried and exhausted—they’re all intent on getting somewhere, all purposeful and excited or focused and rushed. The people-watching is excellent. I wait for my cup of hot water with lemon (a safe bet while traveling) and watch people order. The world of early-morning coffee and breakfast orders in an airport is a fascinating microcosm—some people, barely awake and still sleepy-eyed, stick with coffee and milk. One woman opts for some sort of whipped cream-topped caramel-spiked macchiato. Two teenage boys ask for breakfast sandwiches with bacon and cheddar and chocolate croissants and hot chocolates. I suspect they’ll be hungry again within an hour.
Here’s my new productivity plan: Tackle one small thing a day. Lately, that’s been cleaning my space in miniature increments (as in, one drawer at a time)—but I’m finding it to be incredibly effective. In the past, my productivity plan often looked something like this: Make a very long list of all the things you possibly could and should be doing, including but not limited to large, random life tasks like filing your insurance claims, fixing your water meter, writing thank you notes, and remembering to meditate. Of course, I’d also pile on all my work to-dos, and then my personal work to-dos (go write a book proposal! while you’re at it, remember the blog you write?).
I’ll say this about happiness: it doesn’t always come from the places you expect. In fact, sometimes it comes from entirely unexpected places, or places that you firmly believed could not—and would not—lead to anything but upheaval. That’s one of the best kinds of happiness—the kind that bubbles up and surprises you, effervescent and sparkly and impossible to not succumb to, like that second when you pop a bottle of Champagne and the liquid streams out like gold confetti.
Well hello there, it’s been a minute hasn’t it? You’ll forgive me for not writing for a bit. I’ve been all over the place—from a quick jaunt to Italy (okay, just kidding it was nearly a week but I just wanted to try out saying “quick jaunt to Italy”, similar to how I’d like to say “had dinner al fresco at George’s villa”) to a couple days celebrating my 10th college reunion (YOU DO THE MATH OKAY).
The thermostat in my apartment reads 83 degrees when I walk in the door on Monday evening. My feet ache from walking around the city in the heat all afternoon. I drop my bags, strip off my clothes, and toss them in the washing machine before going upstairs to shower. Outside, all the sidewalk cafes are bustling and packed, as if the population has swelled to twice its regular size overnight.