It’s starting to feel like autumn now. The days are still hot here in the valley, but I look up at the mountains and see patches of rusty orange where the leaves are changing color. Some of the trees down here are starting to change, but more subtly; a bright green starts to go yellow at the edges, and in a strong gust of wind, schools of leaves swirl along the road like so many tiny fish. The days are getting shorter, and when I wake up in the morning, I feel really glad I’ve put on a cardigan to go to the office.
Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Now true, I feel that way every time the seasons change: the first time my nose picks up the icy sharp smell of snow, the day in March when the forsythia outside of Wait Chapel starts to show little pinpricks of green, and the glorious early summer afternoon when the sky is clear and the sun is hot all make feel the sort of excitement usually reserved for children and puppies. It’s the kind that makes you want to tap your toes and wriggle around and squeal. Fall, though, does have something the other seasons don’t. Fall is when school starts. It is the season of new beginnings in a way New Year’s could never quite match. I sometimes wish I could co-opt Rosh Hashanah as my own holiday, because celebrating the new year in fall just feels more right.
This all feels especially true this year. Normally, by now I would have been back at Wake Forest for a week or so, in the swing of classes and auditions and meetings with my bosses. It would still feel like summer in North Carolina, hot and humid and beautiful, like you could still hold on to the carefree feeling a little while longer, like time wasn’t really passing after all. Instead, it feels like autumn and I am not at the school I called home for four years. It’s a new season, a new school, a new city, far from the things and people that made me so comfortable before. So now, I have a simple (though not necessarily easy) goal: to figure out a new normal. What is my life going to look like in Vienna? I have some of the bare outlines. I’ll go to class; I’ll do my shopping; I’ll go to church and dance class and museums and cafés. The details, though, still elude me: what classes? Where is my new favorite café? Which of my classmates will I be hanging out with? Now that I have less than a day left at home, these are the questions I find myself asking, and it helps blunt the worst edges of my anxiety. Until then, though, I fully intend to savor my last few hours in the States: working on the last parts of my quilt, sneaking a Red Baron French bread frozen pizza, and watching the newest episode of Grimm.