Autumn’s arrival is always a bittersweet thing, as there is menace within those scarlets and golds and vermillions. The colors blossom the way skin flushes before death. Autumn feels more wretched than Winter because it’s the point just before, that moment in time where the outcome seems to teeter on the tightrope of chance. We carry hope that the encroaching cold can be pushed back one more week. It’s that feeling late Sunday afternoon when you realize that you have to go to bed and get up in the morning because tomorrow is fucking Monday and work calls, work calls, work calls. The closer it is to midnight, the more you want to just crawl up and die. We lament Sunday, as Sunday is a messenger bearing bad news. Autumn is the same way – it’d be the perfect season if not for the fact that Winter is waiting around the corner, waiting to make every outdoor moment of your life a nightmare. Autumn is the pretty house on the hill, hobbled by its proximity to Winter, the boarded-up hovel next door. Empty and bitter and dark. Living in Autumn means that Winter’s miserable shadow is always in your yard, there is no escaping it.
I suppose I just wanted to see Summer one last time, a last hurrah before the temperatures drop. The winds will become icy knives soon, and things like bikinis, sunscreen, and picnic baskets will seem so distant as to be hallucinations. I wanted to see it because no one goes to the beach in October, at least not in swimwear, they don’t. And it will still be pretty, but it will be different. It will be gray and stark, and the sky won’t hold relief in its breezes. The spray of the waves a cold slap against skin and eyes; the water an old friend turned hostile.
One last time to see Lake Michigan, even it’s just to say goodbye. The same way we say goodbye to the Christmas tree before we haul it down the stairs in a shower of sharp brown needles. We’ll wrap ourselves in thermal underwear and thick socks, cumbersome coats and scarves. We’ll step out into the brutal Chicago winter; we’ll stomp the snow off our boots upon returning, wiping snot from dripping noses. Frantic dashes from the shower, chattering bodies wrapped in terry cloth robes. Sweatpants and t-shirts under heavy flannel sheets, and I’ll dream of breezes from open windows and our naked bodies pressed tight beneath the linen.