I, like the Gilmore Girls, mark my memories by the seasons. (I don’t know if you’ve heard of these “Gilmore Girls”, some people are really excited about this a new series separated by the seasons coming out on November 25, which is basically a month away. Just saying). If you know the Gilmore Girls at all, then you know there is a time when Lorelei has a fight with winter. All these things are happening and the inn is snowed in and she stepped in a cold puddle and the Goldfarbs went cross-country skiing and now they’re missing. She’s frustrated, and she just isn’t getting that warm fuzzy feeling she usually gets when it comes to winter. So Luke, the beautiful man that he is, builds her an ice rink in the front yard so that her and winter will make up.
My memories go like this: I remember when we met, it must have been summer because it was hot as balls. I remember the first time we hung out, it was right after memorial day. I remember the day you hit that mailbox, it was definitely spring because you were listening to your birthday song. Every winter we ordered pizza and built snow chairs and tables outside so that we could eat on our thrones like the snow queens that we are.
Fall carries so many memories. Crashing bikes into leaf piles and laying there in pain thinking that maybe crashing the bike might not have been the best idea, inhaling that certain particular fallen leaf smell; the sound of them crunching underfoot on a hike, the temperature of the air on Halloween night, the smoke rising from the first cool night bond fire. I could list fall memories for days.
I have a confession to make. Fall and I haven’t been on the same terms that we once were. This year I feel Lorelei in winter, and yes that’s a feeling. The fall has stolen my voice and made my nose bleed and piled even more things onto my plate than there were before.
I started this crazy train of activities in April, exactly at the time that I was trying to find a purpose for my life. I think it started out at one of those things where you don’t know what’s wrong, so you try to shake up everything at once. I was testing out new things for my life like band instrument placement in 5th grade, feeling out all the different shapes and sounds to see which I liked the best. The only issue was I really liked all the instruments I was testing out, so I decided to try to play them all at once.
I did more programs at work, I got more involved with other organizations, I started making more plans with friends near and far, and it was awesome. It’s still awesome. What’s not awesome is that I’m an introvert who hasn’t spent a day alone in 6 months. I started this huge marathon not knowing how long it would last, but trusting that I would see the finish line soon. Time passed, and I ran, and no finish line came into view. And it was May, and then June, and I started to panic. What if it never let up? I reassured myself and pushed it down, and the panic left. And then it came back again, and again, more quickly each time.
I’ve been running past the scenery for so long that I stopped paying attention to the things that usually meant so much to me. I was so busy that the seasons that usually marked my memories started and ended and moved by without me being able to slow down and enjoy them, and as fall came around I started to get angry.
Why was my life so busy? Why was I running when all I wanted was to stop and be still? I was angry like it wasn’t my fault that I was so busy. I kept complaining about all the things I wished I had time for and all the things I had to do like someone else was the one calling the shots in my life.
“I’m so stressed, I have no time in my life for myself because I am doing all these other great things.” Things that I am CHOOSING to do. Choosing. I choose the things that I am present for. This isn’t a- Wizard of Oz dude behind a curtain with a big booming voice telling me what to do- kind of thing. I don’t get to blame a nameless faceless voice for bossing me around, because I am the one choosing to run.
I chose to learn more natural history and start more programs at work, so why did I complain to my friend this weekend that I saw too much when I was outside and it took away my ability to relax? Why did I get so frustrated trying to write past the cork keeping in my thoughts, when I chose to be a writer and accept all the things that come with it. Why didn’t I realize sooner that I am the one causing these problems in the first place, picking out all these things I love and packing them into a picture frame so tight that I can’t really see any of them individually anymore.
I was complaining to my friend, hoping that she would have answers for me. I was being impatient. I couldn’t even wait for an answer to my frustrations because I felt I was wasting too much time waiting for them to shake out.
But life is long, and I am young. There’s enough time.
I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get words to come out, but when I got in my car to go home a cork popped off the champagne bottle in my heart and all these ideas spilled out. I felt that need to write something all weekend because I wanted to write about something that hadn’t happened all the way yet. I wasn’t giving it enough space to solidify. I sat in the car watching fall hit the windshield and thought, “what if time was my issue with everything?”
What if I can’t be still in nature because of time? I thought about hiking the day before. Of going to this waterfall and finding all these really cool ridge top plants and beating myself up, again, for not being able to leave nature unexamined for just one afternoon. I was so focused on beating myself up and trying to figure out how to return back to existing as the person I was before nature was my job, that I didn’t realize I was already doing it. I climbed rocks like an idiot, and got muddy, and took pictures, I poked this weird squishy algae/moss stuff just because I wanted to know what it felt like. I was able to examine, and to exist, because I had time.
I keep having this thought in my head when I go new places that I need to do all the things or I am going to regret it someday. I need to take in every sight and taste all the food, and go to all the coffee shops, because a year from now I’ll wish I had.
Who the fuck cares? Who cares if I get a year down the road and regret not waking up earlier to see the sunrise and get some coffee? My heart probably would have loved that, but I’m sure it also loved sleeping in, and that’s the part I always forget.
Life is long, and I am young.
I love coffee, but I love sleeping in too. And staying in to play games and drink wine rather than going to a bar. Maybe I’ll go next time, because there can be a next time if that’s what I want.
Time seems short because it’s finite, and I focus on that so much that I sometimes forget how long life really is. If my 3 hour Ecology lab felt like it would never end, then 3 years is an eternity. If I regret not seeing the Statue of Liberty when I went to New York then I guess I’ll have to go back another time.
Time flies so fast not because that’s its nature, but because of us. It runs scared from us after it sees the intensity and desperation in our eyes as we try to grasp at it and strangle it into stillness. Trying to still time doesn’t do a damn thing. The earth keeps spinning, the world keeps moving, and we don’t have the ability to stop any of it. So why try? Chasing time like an escaped bunny rabbit, with outstretched hands and crazy eyes isn’t helping, it’s actually doing the opposite.
I am so stubborn and spiteful, and I couldn’t figure out how to quit running my marathon and chasing time. I got so angry trying to find a way to trick myself into slowing down to a halt so that my muscles could cool down that I finally said fuck it, and I just gave up.
A long time ago I took a week off, planning on taking a national park trip with a friend. Life happened, the trip never got planned, but I continued operating like I was going. I didn’t erase the days off from my calendar at work, I left “national parks” blocking off the week in my phone. I designed my schedule like I was going to be so far out of town that no one could reach me. I didn’t plan anything, I put up an away message on my work email, I told people not to contact me because I was going to be away.
Maybe it would have been enough for me to just plan one free weekend, but honestly I think I needed to do something more drastic to prove to myself that I have the strength to schedule time for myself. That may sound ridiculous, but it’s been really hard for me to do. This weekend wasn’t me time, but it was amazing and relaxing. It finally let me enjoy fall, and it brought me a lot of answers about time, and why I needed this drastic introvert recharge. I got home and I lay in bed listening to the rain fall outside my window while I read and waited for my laundry to be done, and I realized that this is my ice rink. I am Lorelei Gilmore and this calm weekend and unplanned week are my gifts from Luke.
I don’t need to hold so much frustration and blame fall like he’s the voice behind the curtain, because it was never really fall’s fault. It was always my choices; my fault for forgetting to slow down. I was expecting an apology from fall, but he wasn’t the one doing the harm. Fall didn’t need to build me an ice rink. I needed to stop running so that I could be still enough to gather materials and make a plan, and have the time to build one for myself.