Everyone has them; that last piece of cake, that train ticket to nowhere, that internship you let slip by, those words you didn’t mean. Mine is that I’ve never seen Fall.
The season that everyone talks about; the one which is supposed to be the most beautiful. I’ve heard about it, read about it, imagined it, but never really seen it with my own eyes. Not really my fault, I live in a tropical country and the leaves here don’t turn bright red or orange—not simultaneously anyway. I know there is still time for me to see it–I am after all only fifteen, but the thing is, I’ll have no beautiful childhood memory of playing in the swing as fiery red leaves fall all around me, no memory of rushing and plunging into brown-red dry leaves. I tried jumping into ordinary brown leaves which I found lying about and made into a pile, but it just wasn’t the same without the scenic bare trees and that perfect climate—the leaves I found were truly dead, limp, not the crispy, crunchy stuff I dream about; they were not whispering any secrets to the wind.
The first time I fell in love with this season was when I was 10 and was watching this anime—I never can remember the name, but the main character had just lost his sister (or was it mother?) and he was walking through a park and it was Fall. The leaves were falling ever so gently to the ground, taking long, swirly routes. The character was bundled up in a blue, bulky sweater and a red scarf and he sat on the park bench and simply looked around, watching the kids running amok and creating leaf-piles. There was a lake nearby and a couple of leaves fell into the water, creating these ripples which had been illustrated just so. There was a path between two lines of tall large trees shedding their rubies and sienna jewels. I know the character was having a very important moment (he had, after all, just suffered a huge loss) and he was saying something really deep and inspiring, but all that I could focus on were the leaves and the trees. Yes, anime is just a bunch of drawings and sketches, but it was perfect. I remember having this uncontrollable urge to just reach in and grab a fistful of the wonderful maple leaves, or just walk in that park among the trees. It was so bad that when I found out that I couldn’t, that I was still lying on that bed and not falling into the leaves, it felt terrible.
The second time I came across it was in the book Main Street, the second book in the series. It was a good book, but I don’t remember a lot of the story, what I do remember is the cover illustration. It showed a group of girls sitting on their front porch steps and there were leaves all around. It was Fall. Fall in Camden Falls—the name of their town. It wasn’t particularly skilled or intricate, but the girls just looked so happy and content there on the steps among the leaves and the trees. And the street they lived on just looked so irresistible, that I was insanely jealous. To the extent that I almost threw the book out the window in frustration, but thankfully didn’t because it wasn’t really my copy and my friend probably wouldn’t have appreciated her new book being chucked down nine floors. And I found myself just staring at the cover for hours on end, especially when I was in a dark mood and just wanted everything to dissolve away. And it did. One look at the picture, and everything else always just fell away.
There were many other instances, other books, other shows, other cartoons. Each time the leaves seemed to blush a deeper red, as if aware of, and flattered by, my reverence. I kept ‘Fall’-ing in love deeper and deeper with the most beautiful of evening dresses owned by Nature–it was as though she saved up all this amazing-ness and beauty for a memorable finale in the form of Autumn; that last hurrah before the grey undertones of winter overwhelms everything.
I have this silly, school girl fantasy of living in a small apartment, an apartment strewn with books and manuscripts (preferably my own) and waking up every morning and throwing on a sweater and grabbing a book and just walking through this trail. It’s always autumn in this haven of mine and the only colour sweaters I have are dark blue, olive green and grey ones. And I have one red scarf. One red scarf that I always thrown into the sky at one point or the other and it just blends in with the leaves, and then invariably, I find it in my closet the next morning and do it all over again. Oh and I also have earmuffs. I don’t know why, but earmuffs and red scarves are essential during autumn for the image isn’t complete without them.
Yes, it’s silly. But nevertheless, that’s my happy place. That trail just overflowing with all things autumn.
That’s what I would ask for if I was granted one wish: to see, feel and smell autumn. I imagine autumn as this velvet cloth with a few coarse patches here and there, with beautiful, delicate swirls and waves. It smells like my copy of Lord of the Rings: sweet, subtle, heavenly, and yes, that book really does smell sweet. And when I think about it I always imagine wind chimes and my hair being blown this way and that and standing in the midst of a pile of leaves, hands deep in my pocket, face half buried in my scarf.
Everything just falls into place. And its perfect.