imaginary outfit: a break in the weather

When I went outside to walk the dog this morning, I was startled. The air was cool, actually cool, and for a moment, it felt like I was stepping across the edge of one season into another, though as I walked down the street, past the neighbors’ clumps of yellow rudbeckias and lacy daras, I felt a creeping clamminess, the lingering trace of the month’s mouth-breather humidity, and I knew any thought of fall was wrong, too early; wishful. The ground was littered with branches and leaves (I dreamt of thunderstorms) and the water had pushed the old pine needles and dead leaves into serrated ridges, a ghost flow-trace. The dog was happy; he is almost always happy. We walked toward the river, high and brown after the rain, as we always do.

I’ve had a strange feeling this summer, like going back in time, and haven’t quite understood why, because my face keeps getting older and my kid’s legs are longer and the flowers are going to seed, and that time is passing is very clear. But I finally placed it. It’s the same feeling I had when I was about 15, when my world was very narrow and deep because there were not many places to go, and I went to those same places all the time and saw the same people and did the same things, and the only things that changed were the books I read or the songs I listened to and the thoughts passing through my mind. And at the time, I was mostly confident that it was a temporary state of being, that my life would eventually get bigger, but I was also a little afraid that maybe there wasn’t anything else, that this was it, would be it, in fact, forever. The same small things over and over again. It was a peculiar state of suspense, and I felt very alive when I was in it.

And I suppose suspended is a good way to describe it, my life, two-odd years into this pandemic, which maybe sounds sad, except that it is actually exhilarating. I’ve finally slowed down enough that some mysterious inner gyroscope has recalibrated, or whatever it was that thrummed with anxiety and what’s-nextness, and I find I just am where I am. And today, the air was cool, and there were delicate mushrooms, pleated inkcaps grey as stormclouds, poking up on the grass-seeded slope by the bridge where they laid the new sidewalk, and the dog was happy, and there wasn't much to do except pay attention.