Solace and Camouflage

The nights are finally cool enough to leave a window open and sleep through. Trees are burning their summer leaves, letting them drop, and emerging naked from the fire. Rain lingers though the afternoons warm; the ground is damp. The Great Pumpkin approaches.

I can’t wait. My favorite time of the entire year-wheel is upon us. I hate raking leaves, but the joy of being forty-plus is that I don’t have to. There’s always neighborhood kids or landscapers looking for an extra buck, and I will gladly pay for a little peace of mind. The scars on my palms from childhood raking have stretched and whitened, submerging until I can only feel them when I spread my fingers and stay tense for a little while. I’m sure they’ll pain me as I grow older, but that’s fine.

I don’t understand people who fear getting older. Sure, there’s facing your own mortality, but one can die by misadventure, violence, or sickness at the drop of a hat at any age. The further I am from my helpless childhood, the better. I have my own car, my own money, my own home full of things I love. I don’t have to speak to my past tormenters or allow them any of my mental real estate.

And, frankly, the longer I endure the more chance I’ll outlive them, and be granted the real freedom of knowing they’re permanently barred from harming me.

Perhaps that’s why fall is my favorite. It reminds me that I’ve survived so far by hiding under ice and bare branches when necessary, conserving my strength and fire until needed. In the rain, tears can’t be seen, and the blurring of falling water gives me both solace and camouflage.

I write, I run, I care for those under my aegis. But sometimes I stop and take a breath, feeling a bone-deep gladness that I have seen many autumns now and each one takes me further from a horrifying pit of bleak despair.

It’s good to survive. Many don’t, and we who do carry them curled inside us. We carry those who cannot crawl any further, and those who were subsumed in the darkness. Each day we are granted, each day we fight through, is a victory for the forever silent as well as for ourselves.

If you’re carrying, today, try to take a deep breath.

I’m with you. We’re gonna make it.