This I Believe

Shannon - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on December 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the Fall. There is nothing more terrifying and potentially therapeutic than unzipping the comforts of your bronze, Summer-Skin suit and stepping, unprotected, into the whipping winds of autumn.

Every year, I’ve waited, with great anticipation, for the trees to flash their colors and perform a slow and blustery strip tease while I sipped velvety red wine, donned silken scarves and slipped into the woolen winter coat that waited patiently for me in the closet. Wrapped snuggly head to toe, I’d put another dollar on the stage and wait for the trees to get naked, my personal arboreal lap dance. They shed chunks of their identity and prepared for hibernation and growth while I gawked at this transformation behind a rain-streaked window in my Portland home, butternut squash soup burbling gently on the stove. I was grateful for my creature-comforts, appreciative of the beauty above and around me but content to watch, rather than partake, in this odyssey of nudity.

This Fall, however, I was asked to participate. I was asked to leave my winter coat in the closet, shed my things, shake-off my home, abandon my love and strip-off my own skin in order to prepare for my personal metamorphosis:

I lost a lot this year. Not just the forks and towels in my break-up, but actual pieces of my heart entwined with my past, my present and my future. Sadly and grudgingly I shed my leaves, each one a different hope, expectation or dream of my life with Jereme. A few leaves dropped last summer as we agonized over jobs, moving and how we would make it work. Many of them fell when he told me just couldn’t do it anymore and then slept in the guest room for the first time in our four years. Three days later, a big storm blew in and stripped me nearly naked when he told me he was no longer in love with me. I dropped more leaves the day he moved his clothes out of our closet and took his toothbrush from our bathroom. The sadness and confusion of this loss have been excruciating.

It’s mid-November now, and like the trees outside, the stubborn and defiant leaves of “hope” “maybe” and “one-day” cling to my spindly bones, flapping wildly and at the mercy of the weather. And like these trees, though we’re nearly naked outside, our insides are in self-preservation, energy-conservation, Think Spring!, and this-too-shall-pass mode. My Arizona roots are pumping fresh nutrients and sap through my veins in preparation for imminent spring growth.

Fall unmasks the raw and blows away everything that is not sturdy enough to persevere or preserve. It delivers the unearthed harvest intended to nourish us through the winter. Nearly everything in my life has been swept away, but that which remains are the roots of my family, friends and self with which I will replenish my heart. Fall has taught me the art of stripping, the catharsis of letting go of everything that isn’t nailed to the floor and the healing practice of relying on my roots to feed me.