September 24, 2012

Fall Back & Give It a Little Slack: The Autumn Equinox.

photo by Jill Shropshire

I’m blessed with many fine qualities, but patience isn’t one of them.

This would be very obvious to you had you been behind me in the checkout line at the grocery store the other day. I was there to buy grapes and a badly needed tube of toothpaste, but a five-tiered display near the exit door caught my eye.

“Can you wait one second?” I said to the woman behind the counter. “I forgot something.”

I came back with an enormous pumpkin in my arms and dropped it onto the conveyor belt.

“It’s kind of early for that,” the woman said. “I guess your kids can’t wait until Halloween.”

“Yeah. You know how kids are.”

She said she had a few herself. She knew very well how impatient they could be. Her daughter has already starting putting together a princess costume. “There’s glitter all over the floor of her room. It’s going to be a long month.”

I wanted to offer my own endearing parenting story, but the truth was I was lying through my unbrushed teeth. I have several godchildren and an 85 pound mutt and a boyfriend who stays up late into the night watching cartoons, but my womb is as barren as the Badlands. The pumpkin was for me.

To be honest, it took a monk’s discipline to make it this far into September without already purchasing a pumpkin. They were at the grocery store, front and center, on the first of the month.

Pace yourself, Lovelace, I thought. Your time will come. Be patient. Be yogic.

The pumpkins taunted me with their unscarred flesh—begging for a roughly carved snaggletooth smile and a votive candle. While reading the news about the upcoming election, I dreamed of an intricately carved rendering of the Obama family—complete with a hypoallergenic dog. A large pumpkin would be required for Romney’s gargantuan mug. Perhaps Paul Ryan on a mini-gourd (to represent his low body fat count and small…ego), flashing his P 90 X arms. The artistic possibilities are endless.

Autumn brings out the kid in me, clearly. It has always been a time of great change—of starting a new grade, a new wardrobe, a new life. Even though I’ve been out of school for almost a decade, fall fills me with that same uneasy feeling I had when I huddled in the girl’s bathroom stall long after the bell rang on the first day of junior high. I have an overwhelming urge to wrap myself in a blanket, shut off the cell phone, and hide from the world.

This is mostly due to the fact that, even post-school, I have moved almost every fall of my adult life. Summers are filled with securing truck rentals and collecting cardboard boxes and finding new homes for my massive, old school television sets. You’re in luck! A Toshiba from ’92! It weighs 300 pounds and the screen is cracked, but it’s a classic! And free!

Summer incites a restlessness that forces me to quit decent jobs and leave happy homes. Some people come home from summer vacation slightly bummed that they have to get back to life—back to reality (pause this blog for a Soul 2 Soul booty-shake break, people). I come home with a real estate guide and an application for the beach town’s frozen yogurt shop. I come home impatient to start a new reality.

To some of you, this may sound like a dream life—no moss on my stone and no responsibilities to anyone but myself. To others, it may seem frighteningly chaotic and anchorless.

It’s both. Once the new reality is created and the ubiquitous trip to Target for trash-bags and dish racks has been made, a feeling of intense loneliness sets up house in my heart. It doesn’t matter where I am: New York, Chicago, West Virginia, Memphis. In the most beautiful and lush of landscapes, or the most ghetto and rotted out, I feel the exact same. Alone.

To make matters worse, the days get shorter and the nights become a long, painful forward bend in a frustratingly slow Yin class. I’ll come home from a new job and regale only myself with tales of hapless co-workers and shitty new bosses. I try to avoid doing this in front of windows so that my neighbors (who I don’t yet know and probably won’t ever get a chance to know) won’t think I’m a crazy spinster lady.

Autumn is a time for lots of single movie tickets and fat, Russian novels. For new adventures in knitting and decoupaged picture frames. For complicated vegan recipes and lots of leftovers growing fur in the back of my refrigerator. It’s the season of three-hour long phone calls with anyone who is unlucky enough to answer. For OK Cupid profiles that proclaim both my independence and my dark, chasm of raw, unrestrained need. Bi-PolarBabe34: I’m totally fine without a man, but I desperately want one. Anyone. Boys?

In yogic philosophy, the autumnal equinox ushers in an era of balance—the lengths of day and night are equal to each other. In accordance with that, we yogis should correct any imbalances in our own lives. If we have been extroverted during the summer, fall is a time to pull back a bit. If we have spent ourselves into a corner on vacations and micro-brewed six-packs, we should clip a few coupons and stick to just the one Pabst. Everything in moderation, of course. Winter and summer are the seasons for extremes. Fall is for that much-mythologized place known as the middle-ground.

If you find it, send me a real estate guide and a job application, please. It’s the one place I’ve never been. I often move because I feel that I’m too dependent on those around me—that I’m being suffocated by too much social interaction. Then I find myself so deprived of intimacy that I’m praying for the ticket-taker at the movies to extend our brief interaction–maybe she’ll even sit down beside me with a bucket of popcorn.

This fall, I’m staying put in the same town, same house, same job, same boyfriend. It feels, well… samey. At the same time, it’s a new sensation to be rooted. To create a line of continuity from one year to the next. To nurture old relationships and find new beauty in them. To have my yoga teacher note how much progress I’ve made with my practice since last fall. To know how to get from one end of town to the other without using GPS. I’m discovering that living a stable, balanced life can be a journey unto itself. It’s not as exciting as a broken down U-Haul truck in the middle of a September heat wave, but it’ll have to do for now.

As for my pumpkin purchase, I recognized that lying about my unborn children was probably an indication that I should wait a while. People lie about drinking and drugs and affairs—things they are ashamed of. Pumpkins shouldn’t shame you. It’s one of my most benign addictions, for Shiva’s sake. I put it back on the display and told it I’d be back for it in a few weeks if it could wait that long. Instead, I bought a 99 cent min-pumpkin that is sitting beside me as I write this. And tonight at midnight I’m turning Paul Ryan into a pumpkin. Voila—the middle-ground.

A hot toddy toast to you and yours. Happy Autumn Equinox. Namaste.


Editor: Brianna Bemel


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