Let’s rewind to the first of October . . .
K and I set out for New England, chasing that moment when the Eastern seaboard transforms into technicolor autumn. Instead, we found ourselves navigating the earliest touches of fall. The leaves teased us with bursts and patterns unpredictable, as if to say: You left, and you can’t just have everything back all at once, and only for a week.
Still, we went apple-picking with young-couple relatives and their tots, sipped cider and marveled at how unique even the smallest humans are.
We visited a gothic summer cottage, scaled the White Mountains of New Hampshire in an aerial tramway, walked among miniature mountain-top trees, and watched trained bears dance. I knocked my head multiple times, and hard, against the low, slanted ceilings of our frilly bed-and-breakfast rooms, just below the attic, and felt like an overgrown Alice fumbling through a dollhouse. However, the breakfast was delicious. Later, we dined on Thanksgiving fare and I drank a glass of cranberry wine. We played old-school arcade games and drove back to Massachusetts.
Thanks to the pervasive autumn chill, I found myself once again craving tea throughout the day, so I scrounged up whatever I could find—tea bags in the back corner of a cupboard, Earl Grey k-cups that sputtered in a faulty Keurig machine. Upon my return to Oakland I was greeted by a cerulean blue sky, warm sun, and palm trees silhouetted above skyscrapers of humble stature. I made a beeline, tugging my suitcase-on-wheels behind me, for Burrito Express, and thanked my lucky stars that I live in California.
And so my beloved autumn has become a fantasy season, more inspiring in daydreams and tumblr photos than it is in person. Still, I miss the long stretches of brilliant hues I experienced in Maine, when each of the seasons awaited me and I had time to enjoy my pumpkin spice coffee and crisp, cool breezes day by day, instead of trying to scoop up all of the pleasures of fall in the space of one week. Traditional seasons evade me here, but it’s a small price to pay to live in the region that feels more like home than any other. And so my heart lives in disparate places, but mostly—approximately—it’s here.