Cassidy said it best this week – “12 years ago I left my home in the Haight with wife and husky and we left the Promised Land. Not gonna lie, I cried all the way to the Bay Bridge, and that was it. Never looked back. 13 awesome years….got out at just the right time for us. Last 12 years have been nonstop magic and the 13 before that…attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.”
And you know what? Stormy could close the door on command. It was super amazing for those lazy nights, and also an apartment that was nearly 100% heated and cooled by an open door, or lack thereof. We had a space heater we had to use a few times a year, or maybe more, but imagine those energy bills without heat or a/c. It was just bay breezes and strong sun. Warm blankets on even those October nights, although October in San Francisco is like their summer.
That’s how it is here. We arrived on the east coast in mid-October, 2008, and already had our little road trip “souvenir.” Scarlet. We returned to California a year later, perhaps to the day, with our near three-month-old. We were traveling for a wedding, but so much had changed in that year (for us). All of the delights of San Francisco seemed pretty unchanged. That time. The same wonderful people worked at the same wonderful locations, and we ate our weight (plus, I was nursing like crazy) in amazing foods we had missed so much. It wasn’t an east coast October, but it was powerful to experience both in one sitting. To have our orange glow here, but to get to travel there for a week of bliss. It was picture-perfect, preserved in love and October magic.
A year after that, we returned again, for yet another wedding. We got there in early September, but the trip stretched into early October and its magic. Even out there. In previous years, I had fallen in love with California’s giant pumpkins and the smoky crisp smell of Yosemite’s trees. The shooting stars that dazzled overhead. This 2010 trip had none of the magic of the one in 2009. I had raging anxiety, and we had lost a few loved ones in California who had been alive and well during our first return trip. Probably, October’s magic catches you in the breath and the heart anyway, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we didn’t return to California until 2019, just the two of us. And 2019 was more like 2009’s trip – everything was glistening, swirling magic.
If life all happens all at once, and there is no real concept of time, like many people say, there are so many swirls of October orange and brown in the colorful gaseous chaos of life. Even one life.
These days, Lucy doesn’t know how to close the door. Yet. We still like to keep the temperature regulated by an open back door, and maybe a window open on the other side of the house for a cross-breeze. It doesn’t work as well in New England as it does in California, as the pellet stove burns through most of fall and winter, and sometimes even spring. The humidity also rages on, with its cloying grip on spring and summer, and sometimes even an unlucky October day. This to me, is nearly unacceptable. You come to depend on things – like October being crisp and blue and green and orange. You need the color while you wait, for house additions to be built.
We moved to our house in October, two renovations ago, and right before a freak blizzard that canceled Halloween, but maybe not as effectively as COVID 19 might. We made two children in October, even though we didn’t know we were doing so both times. I think that’s October’s magic for you. It stretches from frosted dazzling pumpkins, to light as far as the eye can see. And I know I’m not writing anything in chronological order anymore, but that’s because of the oranges and the greens and the browns and the blues in the swirling gaseous chaos ball of life.
I’ve never welcomed a child in October, but I’m about to do so (thankfully it wasn’t in September like I feared might happen) and I feel him turning and changing and stretching, with the wind in the leaves. Sometimes it’s frantic and sometimes with a soothing calmness I never expected.
Another October to remember. In the swirling chaos of life, some parts are brighter blurs of orange; more dazzling displays of meteors over Yosemite. They’re not necessarily more or less of your story or more or less important. Some parts make themselves more known at a given time.
This year, I have welcomed the coolness, and the way it can make you tie itchy scarves around your neck. Only to match itchy masks around your face. Anything to get rid of the third trimester heat and humidity horrors, which is such a relief to get rid of this year. It’s a balm to soothe the soul and the body, in a way that only October can provide – like a cup of pumpkin ice cream, and pulling those warm sheets and warm hands and arms more firmly around yourself.
This October brought with it a destructive and fast storm, and scattered power outages and emotions. We hunkered together, under both the real life and the offered rations of love and support, shelter and warmth, WiFi and mac and cheese. Of course we always know it can be worse, but that doesn’t mean we cannot react to the figurative and literal storms that ache our bones and take away our basic comforts. In October, it’s never so, so bad. Never too, too bad.