Autumn. Such a lovely word for a most beautiful time of year. It is amazing how fast we journey from summer into winter. How quickly the leaves start changing color and dropping from their lofty perch. How crisp and clean the rain smells, keeping everything in a perpetual state of dampness. How the hours of daylight begin to diminish with each passing week.
Autumn in Seattle means a return to what the city is famous for – rain and copious amount of coffee to keep the S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) at bay. The grey and gloom that Fall can bring is offset by the vibrant colors of the falling leaves and the inexhaustible supply of caffeine. It is a time for polka dotted rain boots and curling up under blankets, for hot apple cider and cold pumpkin pie. It is a time for friends and family and giving thanks.
I have been fortunate enough to spend the last two weeks in Seattle. I had just enough time to see family and friends and even work a bit at my old firm. I celebrated an early Thanksgiving with friends, and an early Birthday with family. I reconnected with coworkers and earned some much needed cash for the journey ahead. All in all, it’s been great – a taste of home, a taste of the season, a taste of the life I used to have.
When I sat down to write this post I remembered a story I had written in graduate school that took place in the autumn. The assignment was to take a sentence from a book and build a story from it, concentrating on describing the scene and atmosphere in which the story takes place. The sentence I chose was from a short story by Jorge Luis Borges in his book Collection of Fictions. This was one of my most favorite assignments and I am happy to share it with all of you.
Funes, His Memory
I recall him (though I have no right to speak that sacred verb – only one man on earth did, and that man is dead) holding a dark passion flower in his hand, seeing it as it had never been seen, even had it been stared at form the first light of dawn till the last light of evening for an entire lifetime. – Jorge Luis Borges
I recall him on that loathsome autumn day. The wind rustling through the newly fallen leaves, stirring the myriad of colors and shapes and sizes – the ever-familiar recipe of fall. The air was crisp and my words were visible. We sat there in the park as the day faded into premature darkness. My hand in his, I can still feel the gently strength, the warmth, the roughness. This is the memory of a moment – so brief, so long ago; yet eternally fresh and vivid and alive in my mind.
I recall him in faded blue jeans and a baseball cap. His hair fighting for freedom. Those deep dark eyes captivated by that tiny, seemingly insignificant flower that he had brought for me on that day. That day was to be wonderful, that day was to be filled with hope and happiness. But something happened, something I never expected.
We sat on that old wooden bench, off of the path, away from the people, my hand in his, and in his other hand, the flower. I wondered how such a tiny thing could captivate his so. What magic did each petal hold that could cause so much contemplation? What thoughts were hidden behind those penetrating eyes? How was I to know then that the flower was to be the end?
It was only later that I learned the hidden truths of the flower – only later that I understood why he left me so abruptly. For in that moment of the flower something changed in him, something imperceptible at the time but all to apparent in memory. It was as if he aged ten years in a second, the light and luster of youth left him and in their place there appeared all the hardships and weariness of age.
I recall him moving, adjusting, seeking comfort from that hard and unfriendly bench. The wood creaked under the strain, the loose screws snapped against the cold steel, breaking the silence that had pervaded the moment. My eyes traced the path of a golden leaf as it drifted slowly down from the nearly bare branches above. Its journey was continually changed by the slight breeze, and it eventually came to rest on his knee. This slight touch broke his trance. His eyes moved from the flower to me, and in that instant I realized he was gone. And I sat alone, on our bench in the park where he had proposed for many years ago. And all I had left was his memory locked inside a flower.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I give thanks.
Thank you to my friends – my Seattle hosts. I truly appreciate you sharing your home, your food, and your company with me. I hope your generosity never feels taken for granted.
Thank you to my family, my tethers who keep me grounded. I may not call you enough, I may not visit for long, I may not tell you how much you mean to me, but know this – I love you. Yes, due to our familial status, you are stuck with me. I am so thankful I am stuck with you too.
Thank you to my old job. I quit you in April and you congratulated me. And now you let me come back and work a couple weeks here and there. I think this new relationship is working great for us both – thanks.
And now, because we all can use a giggle ever now and then, I give you my farewell email to my office.
Weber Thompson – it’s been swell.
I’m so happy the firm is doing so well.
The past two week have gone by in a flash.
And now, I’m afraid, again I must dash.
Goodbye my friends, don’t shed a tear.
I will be back – I’ll see you next year.
Thanks for reading!