‘Remember the magic,’ I said, and then I disappeared.
I ran off to Greece, where August was a very different experience. Turning leaves and chilly winds where nowhere to be found. Instead there were flowering bugambilias and sweltering days, and although the nights came earlier there, too, autumn seemed to exist in a different universe. But in spite of the abundance of watermelon, or the sand on my toes, or the salt on my skin, or the stars in the sky that greeted me as I lay on the beach at night something wasn’t quite right. I was glad for the plane ride back, and for the rain that fell in London.
And London, oh, London was beautiful — the river mostly, but also the rain. We argued, and I cried, in the rain at that too, and it felt a little like that day from five years ago; except that this time we managed to find our own way out of it, which, I think, is the least we can do after five years. The rain stopped just in time for the sun to come out for a sunset, and for a moment or two the sky was pink and orange and reflected, upside-down, in puddles, and I was happy to be alive.
September came next, the most mixed-up English September I can remember, with sun and rain alternating as if it was spring and not autumn that was on its way. One afternoon early on I stood in the golden sunlight arranging all the desks the school owns by height, giddy with the pointlessness, the silliness and the urgency of what I was doing, and praying that come Monday it would all turn out okay. (It did.) On another afternoon I had a conversation so honest it was almost unreal in a corner of Exeter that is so ugly it is almost beautiful, and I walked away, once again, overwhelmed by the unlikeliness of this life and of its contradictions.
On a third afternoon the rain felt softly on the puddles in the park, each drop calling forth a perfect temporary circle, and I walked through it –an entirely unremarkable park– as it if it was enchanted forest, because the stars and my heart were aligned just right and everything was alive with magic. I thought of Kyra, who once said that the writing, it only happens when we write; of Ian; and of my own words of wisdom; and I concluded that the remembering, it only happens when we remember. And I vowed to came back and to write this down –for you, for me– and to try harder.
It would be nice to be able to say that October was, as a result, filled with magic –it would make for a nice ending– but it would be a lie. October passed me by. There were moments –the first truly cold day, a warm coat and a new favourite hat, all different kinds of fallen leaves against London pavements– but little that made a strong enough impression to have stayed behind. November seemed like it would go the same way, but then something happened. I left the house to get a haircut, I think, and I discovered the most exquisite autumn fog, and I thought to myself, in an echo of something I have thought before, that Exeter looked like a poem about autumn. And in that moment, just like that, I loved this world again.
PS Am I back? Dare I say that this will be continued?