Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I have this weird moment every summer, every time I realize it's August, where it feels like the year is already over. It's not - I know this - but the feeling I get would certainly tell you otherwise. In so many ways, fall is my favorite time of year; I love the visible change in nature, I love the crispness in the air and the crunch of leaves underfoot. There's a feeling of safety that comes in fall - permission to cocoon, it feels like. I anticipate that feeling; am anticipating it now. But even with all the warmth and fuzziness I hold for this changing season, I still catch my breath when I realize it's already here. January, where did you go? Regardless, fall is well on its way; time to watch the leaves fall and pick them up and turn them over, if we so choose.

There is a habit of mine, so deeply entrenched in my makeup, that I hardly even recognize it as habit; it feels as subconscious as breathing. That cliche "leaf turn" is my daily methodology; as often as my lungs embrace the air, so does my soul and everything in me look for change and meaning and something new; a 'new' not obtained in abandoning the old, but by turning over surrounding leaves and seeing what lives on the other side. I've turned over so many leaves in my day, and yet I've only just begun to realize: they're all the same. From what I can tell, I've been looking at the alternating sides of the same three leaves, my entire life. Maybe there've been more than three, and maybe there's been more growth & change than I realize, but there's something oddly familiar about my current seat. I've been here before, in one way or another.

I cleaned my room today. Well, if you looked at it now you'd think it was experiencing the aftereffect of an earthquake or mad temper tantrum - there is still a lot of stuff everywhere (laundry: you are the bane of my existence). But I moved my desk to the opposite corner, downsized a piece of furniture, organized the many bits of nostalgia that clutter my life. If you follow this blog, you know that Ashley-Cleaning-Her-Room is a big enough event to blog about; my room has come to symbolize everything about myself that I don't quite like - I avoid the mess until I break, and then I do an overhaul (and turn over that "new" leaf), and then a few months down the road, I reconnect and realize that the leaf needs turning once again.

I woke up the other day to my sweet roommate knocking on my door to say hello.
"Look at my room" I said with painful recognition, as I gazed over the clothing heaps.
She laughed and said, "This is the way it always looks."

It's true. This is the way my room always looks. Messy. I know this (have known since I slept my first night in a big girl bed). But the moment I connect with my mess is the moment I recognize its bigness. And this - not the leaf turn - is the habit that feels more like breathing than learned behavior: I become a mess, and the mess becomes me; the piles inside the walls are only a symptom of this reality: I have become my own afterthought.

In truth, I don't really know what to do with myself at this point; I don't know what I need or what I'm craving. I don't know why I'm sad or why I'm happy, and I don't know what I thought I knew, and as much as I try to contain the mess, it always turns to meet me. I tried turning over a leaf this morning (that old, familiar coping mechanism), but I soon learned that there are no more leaves left to turn; I've tried them all. Everything I touch turns to humanity, and somehow - though I'm human - it hurts.

Maybe the reason I'm anticipating fall this year is because it matches; instead of adjusting to the seasons, I feel like this year, they are adjusting to me.


Mama said...

I remember spending hours cleaning out your room for you once in a blue moon when you were a young teen. It's tough to keep things in order when there isn't a lot of space. Years ago I came to the conclusion that the best thing money can buy is just that - space. All the rest is gravy. Some day when you can spread out, you'll be surprised at how neat you can be and without a lot of effort at times.

afterthoughtcomposer said...

ah. you really are my mom aren't you?
needed this.