Saturday, September 19, 2009

I figured it out

The S.A.D. truth about Autumn
Sick for Spring
An Oregon Day
I've moved to Ohio

I've been mulling it over, stewing about it, and generally obsessing about what it could possibly be that makes me so sad when Fall rolls around (not all the links above are about autumn, but there is a similarity to them nonetheless). I stumbled upon the answer the other day, and I was shocked by how easy it turned out to be. I'm actually embarrassed at it's simplicity. Why didn't I figure this out before?

I've fussed and written numerous posts about it, I've spent more than one 45 minute commute in a dizzy, distracted fog of curiosity. Is it the trees? Is it the way the air looks? What is it?!

I've posted about trick-or-treating, walking to school, the trees in the park at the end of the cul-de-sac where I grew up . . . why didn't I realize this sooner?

It IS homesickness.

Wha-wha-what? you ask. It's true. The feeling that I've been trying to describe and have realized is simply melancholy, is mainly due to plain and simple homesickness.

I was thrown off because every day I live with a certain level of homesickness, and I assumed by now I would be desensitized. I even mentioned homesickness as a possibility one of my posts, but I'm such a doofus I didn't think about why the autumn makes me more homesick than usual.

It hit me the other day, and it was a revelation.

The heartbreakingly blue skies look like Oregon. Autumntime in Ohio looks almost exactly the same as an Oregon autumn. The other seasons in Ohio are wildly different from what I am familiar with (there's nothing Oregonesque about 12 inches of snow or 99 percent humidity, trust me).

But autumn. Lovely autumn. I step outside in the crunchy air, drive through showers of fallen maple leaves, look up at the cloudless sky, and I could be anywhere. I could even be back home. I stare at the sky, rejoice in the turning leaves, and for a moment I am in Oregon.

Then the moment passes and I realize I am not. It's okay, since this is my new home and I love it with all my heart, but still . . . sometimes it comes as a shock and I feel very displaced from where I grew up. Very far away. It makes me ache.

Anyone who has ever had a dull, constant pain knows that you eventually learn to live with it. But in the autumn I'm constantly going back and forth, constantly catching myself thinking "It looks just like it does 'back home.' "

And that makes me think about how all my life my grandmother has referred to Maryland as "back home." I always thought that was silly. Grammy would say, "It's really hot back home!" or "It's snowing back home!" I thought, "How long does a person have to live somewhere to stop referring to the place they grew up as 'home'?" Then I moved to Ohio, and I learned the answer for myself.

Even though I have only lived in Ohio for two years, I still know the answer is "You never stop." I will always and forever refer to Oregon as "back home."
Autumn is the most beautiful and the most passionate time of year to me; the homesickness doesn’t make me love it any less. The leaves are so red even the air smells like fire.

I close my eyes and breathe in the thin air. The air that could so easily be the air in Oregon. I can't tell the difference. For a moment, I let myself forget where I am.


Mindy said...

If it makes you feel any better at all, Oregon misses you desperately too.

Kate said...

It does.

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