Late fall. There is a darkness to these days that feels deep, like we’re looking at the underbelly of it all, peering into places we could have sworn we let go of. Revisiting, remembering, releasing. It gets dark at five, and sunsets have such a different tone–they have turned from summery and celebratory to something ominous, cold, and silver.
For the mountains it is a time of transition. I leave the city almost every weekend and head straight for the Sierras. In the past month the leaves have turned, a slow but noticeable amount with every visit. Now they are starting to fall. I try my best to act like the Sierras. I try to be as pretty as they are while undergoing major change.
I always feel funky during this time of year. I find myself dreaming of summer’s long, humid days, swimming in rivers, climbing until 8pm, eating fish tacos, drinking beer in a t-shirt after the sun has set, sleeping under just a thin bed sheet. Things are easier then. We’re in full bloom and it all feels effortless and prodigal. But then, the fall comes, and all the things that aren’t working for us come bubbling up to the surface, become obvious, and we are asked to let go, move on, and change.
We drive through Tuolumne as the sun falls close to the horizon. The horizon is jagged, Mathes Crest and Cathedral peak are whisps in the distance. I remember this place in the summer, how the meadows were green and the yellow light made the insects glow. Today it is grey and quiet. The grasses are pale. Some of the river has turned to ice. My hands still throb from the afternoon spent outside. The road gently curves, I look out the window at the rounded granite domes that have unearthed, the scattered snow, the trees with their burgundy and yellow. Quintessential late fall in California.
My fingers are interlaced with his. Earlier, we were hooting and hollering on top of Puppy Dome, 360 degrees of beauty. I was very aware of how nice it was to have someone to hoot and holler with. He was facing South, but then turned to me, a smile so real and so handsome it made my stomach feel light.
Selling the van was hard for me. Thankfully I was still kind of doped up from wisdom teeth medication when the man drove it away so that made things a little easier. I still cried. The van was more than a van. She was an era. An era filled with being alone, sometimes for weeks at a time, climbing solo, cooking for one, making decisions based on only my wants and needs, leaving, splitting, bailing, quitting jobs, drinking a margarita in a loud restaurant on a Friday night by myself, not staying in one place for more than a month, sleeping alone in Utah, running through Aspen groves every morning, doing yoga in the van during afternoon thunderstorms, reading, writing, being quiet, being reckless, always going somewhere, planning something, scheming, dreaming, getting lost.
Now the van is gone. I sold it to one of the landscapers in our neighborhood for a little bit of money and he fixed it up.
Instead of saying I, I say we. If I look cold there is a jacket being wrapped around my arms. Flowers get bought. Lunches get made. Feelings are considered. I sleep in a two person sleeping bag and I always pack two bananas.
For the first time in…a very, very long time, I have no departure date from this place. I’m applying for jobs, thinking about going back to school, and making phone calls to car insurance companies. Frightening stuff. Thankfully I have someone to walk through it with.
The rain didn’t stop last night. It was steady but soft, the first rain of the season. There are less leaves on the trees this morning, they have fallen, heavy with water on their skins. It’s like they don’t even mind. Like it was easy. Like they understood it was just the time of year, they had to release their grip to clear space for something new. No grasping or holding or nostalgia. No dramatic worrying about lost identity. Like they know it’s all okay, like they know it’s just the season.