September

September…

A soft, cool breeze after an endless, stifling, sweaty summer… The first calming normalcy after exhilarating, anxious, chaotic hubbub that just blurs together and flashes by… September… Lurking behind August, it’s the first gasp in a while where your chest actually expands, and you can finally feel some coolness in your lungs. So many comparisons for that stupidly beautiful month… The first still silence after hours of noise… The first moment that does nothing but crawl…

September.

Always my favorite. Always so much for me…

Just the sound of its slightly stronger wind makes me happy. I hear it rustle the leaves – nothing but the chilly breeze in the twisting, bending, swaying trees – and my whole life hits me. Nostalgic… September’s always nostalgic, and I can always tell myself exactly why. September’s when everything happens. Beginnings, endings, beautiful in-betweens – they were all in September, and they still always are.

I guess it started with her. Did we meet in September? Seems so. Back then, I didn’t care which month it was. I just wanted to go home, but that kid came up to me. Who even was he? I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to deal with it. But at the same time, I didn’t want to get in trouble, and he was so little. So cute! Just a baby, really, so I found myself with my mom asking what to do. And it made her walk into my life.

Was she with my sister? Maybe, but the memory of a five-year-old’s faulty. So maybe not. Regardless, I saw her, and I wanted to be her friend. Instantly. As sunny yet gloomy as the month of September itself – born in September itself – I knew she’d be my everything. My destiny – or at least part of it.

September always feels like destiny. Is that because of her? Because of all the memories? Parking lots and tied jackets… Late nights and skipping school… New classes and new clothes… Birthday parties and borrowed friends… All September, all still vivid – the same fiery colors as the changing leaves themselves.

I lived for that month, loved that month. It had everything – everything I ever looked forward to. All the excitement… All the drama… I couldn’t wait for it every year, as much as it killed me. I guess she taught me how to feed off poison – take the worst and make the most of it. She really was poison herself, and being by her side showed me everything I needed to know. Her knowledge follows me to this day, to this current September, and anytime the sky’s blue, her sunny face and cloudy eyes drift slowly to my mind, forever my heat source in the early autumn chill.

I guess I’ll always regret how it ended that fateful, final September. Did we say hi? Safe to assume. After 12 years, we at least maintained the formalities. But that had to be it. Did I see her again before June? Another safe assumption, but none of the encounters were outstanding. Not like before. No time at houses stalking boys online. No talks in secret after bed on the phone. No passing notes and giggling at the idiocies inside. No shopping days or sleepovers or taking the others’ bus home. Just a smile in the hall, or maybe the call of a name. You forgot me, and I blamed you. But I guess it was always like that, moments of abandonment iced by moments of hate.

You showed me first that I was hard to love, one September long ago. I gave a gift so great, but there was something better – always something better. Something I could never top… And at the end of the day, because I couldn’t best the others and remained the same, I lost you. September faded, and our leaves fell. And they still haven’t regrown.

I’m sure you guessed, but our tree died. Now, it’s been chopped and pulverized and pulped into paper, and we use those sheets to write our separate books. But we’re just side notes in each other’s versions, aren’t we? September’s a side note. Unremarkable when you look at it but spectacular if you actually read. Honestly, the annotations are the best part of every story, as that’s where you learn the most. But you never liked reading between the lines, did you? Nor in the margins. I always explained what you missed, and we laughed about it back then. But now, I wonder what else you ignored. I just hope it was nothing from me because I sure as heck didn’t ignore anything from you.

No… I noticed everything, and because of that, I can confirm again that you taught me everything. Love, friendship, loyalty, fun, passion, independence, confidence, care, strength, resilience, spunk – all the basic forms, all from you. You were tough yet delicate, and each time we hugged, your abrasiveness roughed me up, too. You edged my curves – were the branches to my browning leaves – and I owe you for that. I cling to your memory for that…

Look at me, talking to “you” when I started with “she.”

Well, “she” was one of those great moments in life that you never forget, but even those somewhat fade. And now, I couldn’t tell you what she’s doing if my life depended on it. She’s got a girlfriend and a doctorate, and I think she moved away. But that’s as far as my knowledge goes. If she ever came around, I’d probably run, as those sunny, September eyes really hurt me, and I think I’d rather they stay memories. Fond memories, sure; I can’t lie there. Time lets nostalgia replace pain, which is what happened in this near-decade of distance. But that doesn’t mean I want her physical presence turning us back – erasing all the mountains I managed to climb alone.

They were September mountains, though, an ode to her – sunny yet cool and flowering with life. Maybe that’s why I love the outdoors now, as it reminds me of all I gained in her wake: unrelenting will and a pure sense of self – the two concepts nature truly embodies. Not that I wasn’t me with her there. I just wasn’t my purest form, a little too polished and thus constantly reflecting everything in front. But when she left, I shattered, no longer mimicking the image ahead, and picking up the shards, I finally faced myself, seeing who I was for the very first time.

And who was I? Well, the great lover of September…

What came next in the progression of all those glorious, transitionary month-nines? My first job? My first time on my own? Yes, that was it – both of those. My first September out in the world… Walking alone, thinking alone, acting alone… Time really stood still back then, with hour-long classes feeling like days and purpling leaves almost never falling. Never gracing the soles of my shoes… Never accidentally tickling my cheek… Was I still the great lover of September then? It’s hard to remember. Was she still on my mind? So many Septembers have morphed me since that I really don’t know.

Yes, so many marvelous, volatile, fickle Septembers where the cool breeze kicked up and swept me away. Away to my destiny… Lost in my memories and unsure of how to handle the change, I think I looked for replacements, and in that voyage, I stumbled on him, just a year after the first September alone. And what a relief it was, almost as refreshing as the month itself. I mean, sure, that year unaccompanied brought unlimited me – anything I wanted at any time I wanted it. But when you wrap yourself up in you, you get so balled that, eventually, it’s hard to breathe. So you have to unwind and let others in to avoid suffocating, and that’s exactly what occurred in my second solo September.

Oh, that second solo September…

I had no idea it would lead to him. But it was honestly the best – even better than all those falls of old because now, I saw something greater than the sun and clouds and sky. I saw black – infinite, vast, breathtaking black – and it glimmered all around with the most spectacular colors.  I blinked and stared and wondered what it was, and when I realized I couldn’t breathe again, I knew. Space… The universe itself, laid out before me…

We stayed like that for quite some time before plummeting back to Earth, and when we landed, it was still September. Still sunny and cloudy and warm… But after seeing the other side of the atmosphere, it all had a new meaning, a much more transient one. I was suddenly a different girl, and I wondered if we always saw the universe each time we glimpsed our destiny.

Well, that wonder made me hate him. Resent him. Detest him. I didn’t want to see my destiny. No, not again. I didn’t want to repeat her, so I pushed him away – hard. But him… That relentless, little twit… He pushed right back, worming his way in like the critters under freshly fallen leaves, and in that second September alone, I suddenly wasn’t alone. A true, blue friend – even bluer than her sky. I didn’t ask for him, and I didn’t know what to do with him. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t want him. But I somehow decided to love him, regardless, sensing all he’d end up being for me. Just like her…

Then, before I even realized, it was September alone three – or September together two? We sauntered, as comfortable as ever, and found ourselves before northern leaves and sparkling falls. We stayed a little too long, though, mesmerized by the beauty, and suddenly, fresh September winds were sub-Arctic chills that turned the fading verdures of the hundred-steeple city into golden, setting suns. Darkened dots that fell… Foretelling, wasn’t it? As changeable as nature when flowing through September, before we knew it, even our tree was bare, and more paper was made.

I sometimes wonder, if time machines existed, would I ever be so bold as to go back? Would I ever have the courage to change what happened? As I’m sure you can guess: No. I’m a coward at heart, and even if I weren’t, no matter how often I reversed, I’d still be so unbelievably hard to love. She showed me, and he reinforced it… Well, lucky me, learning I’m as dismissed as September itself was actually helpful. My cycle of death that began back then – just like the one happening outside – made me shed my girlish leaves and grow. That vicious, brazen love – so unnervingly naïve… It killed the sanguine child in me and dumped her in a ditch, and from her rotting corpse, new life was born.

Random heat piercing the frost… A hearty blossom in cracked desolation… New life against all odds… That was me, and I think the fact that I managed to rise was all thanks to the girl who broke me first. Full circle… Bringing me to yet another September… One as soft and sweet as it should be…

As the crisp breeze blew back then, I realized for the first time that I didn’t need to bend, as I’m not a tree myself. And as the leaves tinged red, for once, I didn’t flutter and change with them, as I’m not feeble foliage. I’m me: an admirer of September, but not September itself. Independent and autonomous, I was groomed by September almost the same as I was groomed by my mother – as unsuspectingly loving and inadvertently instructing as any mother could be. But I’m not September itself, just like I’m not my mother herself. I love September because of all it taught me and how it put so much care into nourishing me to grow, but I am not nor ever will be physically that month. Does it make sense? How Septembers are made for absorption, not reflection? Well, it did to me, and despite its endless beauty that I wanted to show the world, I knew I had to keep the mirror my way…

And now, I’m here. The streets again have their September bustle, with people finally running around. Sure, all summer long, they existed, but they were stagnant, overwhelmed and stifled into near stillness by the thick, moist, uncomfortable heat. For three months, they didn’t move a muscle, but now? Now’s fresh, so they go free – as free as the animals they try not to be. However, like the animals they really are, their memories are short, and now that life’s cool again, they forget the pain of the past three months and yearn for yet another summer. Fools cursed by repetition, dismissing September as always – as the bland, boring transition to the winter they hate more.

And I watch them, giggling, tickled by the sensuously stimulating September breeze. I know what they don’t, and that’s fine, as it means there’s more September for me. So, I get up to go enjoy it, and as I do, the golden, blinding sunset hazes everything. Nostalgia floods me again, and as a half-purple leaf lands on my foot, a subconscious prayer runs through my mind that Heaven will only be Septembers.

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