Teri Orr: The transition to fall and embracing the possibilities of change
Foreshadowing, I was thinking.
“Scene change,” my friend said.
The leaves — in a rush — rustled on the crabapple trees overhead and then in a whoosh! circled our outdoor table and tossed themselves all over the patio where we were dining. “I feel like I’m in movie,” she said, “and thematic music should swell right about now to set us up for something dramatic to happen.”
The shades were technicolor. Tangerine orange, deep espresso brown and a kind of burnt umber. An olive green — a fully October one. A pale biscotti almost white all creamy leaf … and a solid mustard yellow. The leaves were in delicious jewel tones this day and it did all feel rather dramatic.
We grabbed a blanket for the one of us who was chilly and it was enough for us to stay outside for the entire lunch. … And as we started to talk about transitions, my favorite couple walked into the plaza and went inside to eat. Then three people I adore showed up and grabbed a table behind us. It all felt gloriously brilliantly scripted.
We all had much to share — one friend had shifted her job focus in a major way and was having great success … and she had moved in with her boyfriend — after 15 years of being on her own. It was a large change. And it was going well. Our other friend had recently undergone cancer surgery and her tale was very funny and a terrific script in itself — of robotic machines and compassionate doctors. And her prognosis is positive. My stories of life imitating art were colorful I hope — but no match for my friends’ tales.
The rushes of breezes lasted our entire nearly two-hour lunch. Then a giant swell rushed down and up out of nowhere. Tossing items off tabletops. My friend’s leftover tomato basil pizza in a to-go box was lifted up off the table and the pizza flew and landed crustside down. “Five-second rule,” squealed the woman with the cancer stories, “the cheese is still upright.” She is close to my age and her calling that out made me giggle so I dove down and quickly grabbed the pie and tossed it back into its proper cardboard box. Our fortysomething friend was overcome, momentarily, in her trademark blonde giggles.
As we finished our meal, there were hugs all around, because we had plotted a magical late winter getaway retreat at our friends’ Teton Valley ranch. Winter, we declared, was far more tolerable if there was an escape to talk about spring. Then we parted with promises to regroup with soup and bread and books as our friends’ treatments start up.
I was getting ready to leave and passed through the restaurant and saw my favorite couple still inside, and we shared a few moments of intense conversation in a very short piece of time — and agreed to dinner the next night. I left the restaurant and walked back outside to leave, but the three folks I adore were still on the patio and waved me over and I sat for a spell in the sun with the leaves falling — even landing — in my water glass. We discussed politics — we are of one mind on most topics — and we talked about where democracy, tyranny and chaos intersect or collide. There was laughter, of course, because there always is with us and I left the plaza with leafs swirling in the bright crisp day and I tugged/hugged at the lapels of my blazer and pulled them close, tight, to warm myself from the chill.
Transitions — seasonal and emotional and health-related and those of the heart — are the heart of being human. We are meant to morph and adapt and adjust and recalibrate. It is the not accepting change that limits us to the possibilities brought on because of it.
We knew our friend was not crazy about the idea of needing help as she told us her brightly colored story only now that she was on the other side of it. She began with a throwaway kinda phrase like — “Here’s what I’ve been up to…” She has a support system in her family unit but as we all know, sometimes it is the family of friends we have created where we can most be ourselves.
I had landed outdoors on the wraparound porch of a different friend earlier in the week. She, of the big heart and big eyes and expansive hand movements and buckets of wisdom. It was just warm enough to sit outside that afternoon. We caught up on family stuff briefly but this was more of a touchstone time. What matters to both our hearts is trying desperately hard to be authentic in a world of synthetic personalities and manufactured issues and the lack of heart in how some folks walk through the world. Her galactic success was brought about by her intellect — of course and hard work — but also by her giant heart, which knows how to weave together the practical and the peculiar into something positive. It had been too long since we had shared and hugged and laughed and thought deeply together.
Catching up with friends in a ski/summer resort town takes intention and a wee bit of work — but in the fall — like squirrels with nuts — I am gathering up conversations and laughter, hardback books and blank journals and fresh multicolored markers. I am listening to music that takes me into this — season between seasons. And I am grateful for friends who also want to create the space and time to share stories and heartaches and victories and laughter. It can feel dramatic against the evergreen of summer before the whiteness of winter. It needs to be celebrated for its own merits. Transition is blowing through and around in circles right now — like brightly colored leaf piles. It feels rather glorious to plan to play in the leaves this Sunday in the Park…
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“I’ve been writing in this space for over 30 years now, and in all that time, there has never been occasion to write these words: He was beaten senseless by a Polish chef wielding a narwhal tusk.”