The First Day of Autumn

The rain, it started tapping on the window near my bed. There was a loophole in my dreaming,
so I got out of it. And to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open.

Today was the first day of Autumn, and it cast an enchantment on my heart like a dancer in the fields of harvest time. I smiled more today than I have in the month that preceded it.

Just my nightstand and my dresser where those nightmares had just been.
So I dressed myself and left then, out into the gray streets.
But everything seemed different and completely new to me.
The sky, the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body.
And each person I encountered, I couldn't wait to meet.

Life is good. The autumn of my life is beginning, and it is time to let some of my leaves die. It's time to let my bad habits change color, get brittle, and fall from the tips of my fingers to drift lazily to the earth. It is time to celebrate that I will stand barren before the world for another season, and anticipate replacing old and tired ideas with new ones, more noble and more crafty than the ones that came before.

I came upon a doctor who appeared in quite poor health.
I said "{I am terribly sorry but} there is nothing I can do for you
{that} you can't do for yourself."

And this much is true! For what habit could I break another of? What kindness could I instill? What joy could I present? None! They may choose to feel joy at my coming, kindness at my urging, and abandon habits at my insistence, but it is their choice, and their will, that makes them who they are, not my vain encouragings.

He said "Oh yes you can. Just hold my hand. I think that would help."

The good doctor is right at the core of it though, for therein lies the only good we can ever do for another: We can be the other that they cannot. We can be the outsider and the prophet.

So I sat with him a while and then I asked him how he felt.
He said, "I think I'm cured. No, in fact, I'm sure of it.
Thank you Stranger, for your therapeutic smile."

Are we being the outsider for those that need us? Am I?

So that is how I learned the lesson that everyone is alone.
And your eyes must do some raining if you are ever going to grow.

This is the lesson I had to learn to get to the place where I stand at this moment. I see now that in the distance is another place, and there is a lesson between here and there that I must learn, but I do not know the nature of that lesson yet.

But I am eager for it.

But when crying don't help and you can't compose yourself.
It is best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or simple song of hope.
That is why I'm singing...
Baby don't worry cause now I got your back. And every time you feel like crying,
I'm gonna try and make you laugh. And if I can't, if it just hurts too bad,
then we will wait for it to pass and I will keep you company
through those days so long and black.

Until then, this autumn shall by my autumn. Twenty three years and this one shall be the best yet, for in it I will shed my brittle outer skin and reveal a new layer underneath, more supple and of kinder stuff than the last.

And we'll keep working on the problem we know we'll never solve
Of Love's uneven remainders, our lives are fractions of a whole.

A community of outsiders, playing prophet and priest for each new need of our fellows. That's a world in which I can believe.

But if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall.
Then I think we would see the beauty.
Then we would stand staring in awe at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges,
like a story told by the fault lines and the soil.

Each moment that we linger here, in the late summer of youth, is a moment when we are not reaching forward, rushing headlong into the first revision of our lives. We are rough drafts, full of bad grammar and awkward themes. The first editing may be at hand, and I welcome it.

This is the autumn of our youth. The winter comes quickly, shed your leaves and join me here, at the edge of a new world!

Lyrics: Brights Eyes - Bowl of Oranges.
Image: Wistine

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is the best news I have heard in a long time.

In fact, I think I'll plan to visit Madrid sometime, to show my support for this new policy.

Update: That's right Milan, you'd better be worried! And while you're worrying, somebody get this girl a sandwich! I mean, damn!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It is Tuesday.

And I am sitting at a table in a hotel made of plastic and glass molded so it feels like fisher-price for businessmen. Every piece the same, nothing complicated and nothing out of the ordinary.

But this Tuesday was anything but ordinary.

I am eating a shitty continental breakfast and watching CNN with my roommate.

The talking heads announce that a small plane has just collided with WTC1. It is 8:53 AM.

My roommate chuckles--how do you accidentally hit a building?

I shrug, and laugh along. Seems weird, but it's the biggest target on the island. I suppose if you were going to crash in Manhattan and hit any building at all, one of the twin towers is the most likely.

We are living in a factory-pressed Fairfield inn on the north side of Macon, because our university has not yet finished our dormitory, though the term started a month ago. We're watching CNN as we wait for the shuttle bus that will take us to school.

At 8:57, we get on the bus.

When we arrive at school, we hear murmurings that another plane has hit, but they are unsure, no-one has details, and we think maybe there's just confusion about the first plane. I try to check CNN but get nothing. . . just white space.

We sit through our first class (E-Mag with Dr. J). By the time it is over (10:20?) all the rumours have gone a little bit higher contrast around the edges, and we're hearing not just about two planes, but about a collapse, something about New York being covered in dust and debris.

I head downstairs and bend one of the computer lab's terminals to my will, finally tunneling to CNN and Fox News, and the first picture I see is from Liberty Island--our nation's proud maiden in the Foreground and a tragedy playing out in freeze-frame behind it, all dust and steal and movement where nothing should be moving. All of the motion inward and downward, so human. Like a person suffering an emotional collapse.

Our Dean cancels classes for the engineering program before the rest of the school administration has reacted. The engineers huddle together around a TV someone has brought in, and around the labs, in groups of three and five. No one wants to be alone, but we don't congregate as one either. We need a sense of family, not a sense of tribe, it seems.

By lunch the rest of the school is also shut down, and the student center is full of the youth of a nation in pain--milling about, confused and worried but without a purpose. There is more energy here, it seems almost restless after the somber state of the engineering building. I eat lunch with a few friends and retreat, seeking out the people I know with family in that area, trying to find them even as they try and find their blood, trying to establish any assurance that people are alright in a world that seems to have filled up with television images of disaster and yet emptied of working telephone lines.

In the afternoon we attend a prayer service to commemorate the event. We go, but it seems hollow. Empty. We know we need to be there, but it seems so haphazard, inappropriate--this is not what we were supposed to be doing today. Life was supposed to keep ticking along normally.

And after a fashion, it did. On Wednesday, class resumed.

Now it is Monday.

I wore black to work today.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Too many tears for a single double bed.

And that's the honest truth.

I'm starting to suspect a warning might be in order, maybe a tattoo I could put on my shoulder that says "caution: does not allow others to sleep well"?

In other news: while occasionally inappropriate or over the top, this is quite a witty video, I especially like "Our first goal is to show utter contempt for the environment " and "Secretary of State Powell will plant information to insight fear about Iraq's links to terrorist groups."

Also, this song is adorable.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006