You know it is bad when the silence surrounding you becomes deafening. As we went about our day the thing that struck me most was the quiet. It is really obvious in the truck. Where to even start. I back off, just say nothing. It seems like everything is an argument. Not even a bad one, just another, in a long line of them. I seem to prefer the silence. But part of me hates it. As we drive I watch the leaves blowing, and the sky deepening into a dark grey. This is what fall looks like. It is how it feels, that strays far from the picture perfect colors. There is no beauty for me. Just the sight of the first leaf causes my breath to catch and my heart to skip a beat. It is just a fucking leaf, but is so much more than that. As I stretch my mind back over the years, I look for where this all began. Were falls always this hard? When did they get this way?
I learned of my father’s accident when I got home from camp. I would put that in late summer- at some point. Over that fall and into winter I can only imagine what I grappled with. The first time I laid eyes on his maimed and burned body was the end of October. It was Halloween, I was prob 8 or 9. I think that was the first taste of an awful shift in season. Is that the root? or is it something else? I don’t think it can be ignored. Were all the years before wonderous in their Fall colors? Was it a time of joy and fun, filled with pumpkins and costumes and turkey? I would like to say it was, but I lack any real concrete memories of my past. This has been this way my entire adult life. It is odd, and I often wonder why. My partner can happily recount stories of her childhood. In vivid detail, some at a very young age. So where did my childhood go? Is it there somewhere beyond my grasp? or is it just lost in that void? If I train my focus on my years growing up, I get a deep hollow emptiness. There is nothing that stands out, or makes itself known. It is nothing. The longer I force myself to linger there the more uncomfortable and uneasy it becomes. I have spent my life just avoiding it. It is as if my life didn’t start till I was older. All those prior years lost. Maybe it is a blessing. Those memories I do have are pretty awful. I’d just assume let them be lost.
I have strayed well off my initial quest to find the reason this time of year causes such discontent. I feel the real clear incidents of depression that happened in college also mirror the seasons. Both Spring and Fall. But the very worst being in the fall. I don’t know that there is a more beautiful sight than Ithaca wrapped in hues of copper, red and yellow. The gorges reflecting the colors on the steep rock faces. It is a sight to behold. Unfortunately for me, I saw it in shades of gray. There was no glory, no riot of color. Just a steady dull pallor to everything. It is so remarkable what depression can do to perception. How thoroughly it can leach into everything, taking with it all the wonder. I knew full well I was in trouble by the fall of my first year. I didn’t know the depths I would descend to in my second year, but I knew it was bad. Over the years I have grown to dread the shifts in the seasons. Part of me sees the beauty of the fall, but it cannot compete with the emotional panic that accompanies it. I wish beauty alone could somehow make it better. It does not. It doesn’t last. Fast on the heels of those falling leaves is the dull grey winter.
I always loved snow. I remember that. Happily building forts and snowmen. I felt this soaring type of joy. I was able to lose myself in it. But I took all that away. The predawn hours when I finally acted on my wish to leave this place, when the world was blanketed in snow. Maybe I wished to be back there, in my carefree romps in the snow. Climbing and building without a care in the world. Is that part of what drove me out into the fierce wind and driving snow? I do know that in that moment my view of snow changed forever. Just a single, lone flake can bring my mind right back to that morning. It never changes. A Nor’Easter brings flashbacks and anxiety. It is those storms that drive my mind to relive it- all of it. Thankfully we do not have them often, just a couple of times a year. I know that fall and winter hold no peace for me. There have been years that I have somehow been spared the deep and prolonged pain. I do not know what makes those years different. I cannot tell why one will be that way, while another is not. It never gets any easier watching the summer fade as the days grow shorter. The dread never disappears. The odds are not in my favor. Chances are a change of season means a shift in mood. This year being no different from so many others. It feels a bit like standing on a cliff. The fear so all-encompassing. To think all that, just from watching the leaves fall.