Fall [Autumn]

Fall is my second favorite season. In addition to being the gateway to winter, it is also one of the most beautiful seasons because of the foliage. Living in NH, we get some of the best foliage in the country, though Vermont likely beats us.

Autumn is inexorably linked to the beginning of the school year for me. This is a doubled-edged sword. On the one hand it is a new year with new possibility, on the other it is the end of summer and the beginning if another work year.

There is nothing quite like a crisp Autumn day. It is fun to go for walks and fun to feel the crunch of the multi-colored leaves underneath your feet.

Autumn in New England can be quite cool, which is what I love. School starts in late August and can be awfully hot for 3 or even 4 of the first weeks. I am SO relieved by the time this late Summer/early Fall heat is over and done with. It is such a relief to be over with this heat and humidity. The cool and crisp autumn air is a delight.

Perhaps because I am so wedded to the academic year calendar, Fall speaks to the possibility of new things. It is amazing how much that academic calendar has been drilled into me, so much so that it is more salient for me than the regular calendar year.

Fall makes me think of my time at Phillips Exeter Academy. Between the ages of 14-18, I was a student there. They had trimesters: Fall, Winter and Spring. Summer school was a whole different deal. Since Summer was not a part of the regular academic year, all three seasons had appeal to me. Fall was about beginnings and about the cool crisp air and the plentiful foliage on the trees scattered around campus. I used to walk around and feel the crunch of the foliage under my feet. It also reminds me of loneliness. Making friends was not my strength while at PEA. But I understand this and forgive myself for it because I was coming off of 8 years of severe trauma. I was bullied throughout elementary school and junior high. High intensity bullying lessened at PEA, but it was replaced by isolation. In some ways, I don’t know which was worse. Something about Fall made the myriad of brick buildings around campus seem more romantic and accessible. In the dead of winter they often seemed more foreboding for some reason. My time at PEA will forever be connected to the season of Fall for me.

One of the special things about Fall foliage is orange leaves. Orange is by far my favorite color and there is nothing like seeing a whole tree covered with orange leaves. For me it is breathtaking because it combines my love for fall with my love for trees and the color orange. A fierce orange tree, leaves blowing in the wind, falling to the ground, is an image that makes my heart go aflutter. Finally, my birthday is October 5, so it also helps to make Fall special to me (Go Libras!). Although it is not Winter, Fall is a close second in my book and a season I greatly look forward to after a long, hot summer. It provides cooler weather and great beauty via its foliage. Sitting here in mid-March, it seems so far away. But come again it will and I look forward to it already.

 

 

 

Birthdays

In 2016, I spent my birthday in the hospital. I had several friends and family who were kind enough to visit me, bring food and offer gifts. I am incredibly grateful for their kindness, but it was still the toughest birthday I’ve ever had, both being sick and stuck in the hospital on my birthday. I think the memory of that birthday made me grateful for birthdays spent healthy and free.

When I turned 40 4 ½ years ago, I was thrilled. This goes against the usual narrative to say the least! I was happy when I turned 40 because I had made it that far. You see, the life expectancy for transgender people is much less than for our cisgender counterparts. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I never thought I would even live to see 40. Between bashers on the street and the constant threat of suicide that beckoned me, I didn’t know how many years I would see. So when I turned 40 it was quite an exciting milestone.

Now my greatest fear is chronic health conditions, especially depression and diabetes. I am left with the question again: how long will I live? Sometimes I like to play the parlor game with people: if you could know the exact date and time of your death, would you want to know? I would want to know because I could quit worrying about it. Since that is not an option, all I can do is take it one day at a time and try to manage my chronic health conditions and disabilities.

Should we celebrate our birthdays? Absolutely! We tend to forget that our lives are miraculous. Parent A’s sperm met Parent B’s egg and was fertilized. Then voila! We were born kicking and screaming into the world and grew like weeds for years and years. And then we live our lives as adults and get to exercise our agency to change the world and also the strength to self-actualize and fight to reach our own potentiality. So of course we should mark and celebrate the hell out of our birthdays. There is no one else like us and never will be. We are one of a kind, and our birthday represents part of our uniqueness.

The only thing to remember our birthdays is to not get your hopes up too high. The world doesn’t stop on your birthday 🙂 Sometimes we can get disappointed and even feel like if we make too big a deal of it we are bound to be let down. But planning ahead helps and putting your intentions out into the universe for the kind of birthday you want to celebrate is key. It is also more than okay to NOT make a big deal of your birthday and pass it quietly. Unlike for me, for many people getting older can be difficult in our youth-obsessed world. My hope is that people will remember every additional year they get to spend on the planet is a gift. So whether they celebrate or not, the birthday is a reminder of the miracle of life and the privilege of never having to wait another moment to change the world or change yourself.