Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Autumn Breeze

It came. The news said it was arriving on Thursday, September 22nd at 10:21 am. I watched as the numbers rolled to that moment on the bottom right hand corner of my computer and gave a sigh. That was it. No more summer. Autumn had arrived.

The beginning of fall always brings up mixed emotions in me. That episode in Sex And The City when Carrie gets up in the middle of the night to cover herself with a blanket because she realizes the heat of summer is giving way to the chill of fall really nails the feeling. In that show, she breaks up with yet another boyfriend and at the very end, she looks up at the sky and sees a singular leaf fall upon her landing at her feet. An ending has come, which means there can only be an unknown, new beginning from that moment forward.



New England Autumn
Therein lies the rub for me. I have had a long history of endings and beginnings that happened to take place in the fall. It feels as though a hot cauldron of all those memories gets stirred up inside my heart. Flashbacks of the past--both good and bad--rise to the surface of my psyche. The gentle breeze carrying those first falling leaves remind me of what I want to treasure and what I would just as soon forget

That's when I ground myself in the moment. Everywhere I turn there is an upbeat, celebratory frenzy. Because hey, if you live in New England, during this season this is the place to be. Everyone is going crazy apple picking, going to The Big E or other fall fairs and festivals. The smell of pumpkin spice is laden everywhere-in food, coffee, candles, you name it. The weather is ideal--holding in the 70s with no humidity. As they say, sweatshirt weather. And the fall foliage? Spectacular. Our signature rolling hills just magnify the impact of all those colors. As I tell visitors proudly: Out of anywhere in this country, New England, does fall best.
Looking out from my deck, Fall 2015

I know it's true because I have friends that have moved from Connecticut to Florida. A few have confessed that come fall, they miss their former home state the most of all. Of course, once winter hits, that home sickness passes. If I followed my friends and left this state, I wonder if fall would still have the same impact on me that it does today?

Then I realize that if I did leave Connecticut to be closer to my aging mother and re-connect with friends in Florida, there is no doubt that I would miss this time of year. I would be pining for those Sunday mornings drinking coffee on my deck and looking out at a magnificent vista of orange, gold and red. I know that even among palm trees, fall will always be bittersweet for me.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

And Then Came The End Of Summer...

Here we are in September--the very precipice of the end of summer. I hate it when this time comes. It means those six months of gray, cold and dreary weather looms large on the horizon. No more lazy weekends floating in water, burying my feet into warm, gritty sand and immersing myself into a juicy novel. The days of hunkering down inside are drawing near.

Entering The US Open Tennis Championships
I try to remain positive by reminding myself summer doesn't officially end until September 22. I can still swim in the pool, wear my white jeans, and frolic in 70-80 degree weather. In fact, there have been times when I have spent an entire day on the beach the first week of October. Indian summer. It is what I pray for every September.

It helps to create a tradition to mark the end of this season that is as sweet as the last crops of corn. For me, it is watching the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. I spend two weeks glued to the TV until the weekend after Labor Day.

When I found out that Thursday was free admissions day to the U.S. Open Tennis grounds, I jumped in the car after work and was on my way. Perhaps the reason I felt so compelled to this event is because I wanted to sit among people that are as passionate as me to see Serena Williams advance towards a record-breaking Grand Slam, And I desperately wanted her to hold on to her  #1 ranking in women's professional tennis that she maintained for 186 days.

Serena's astonishing ascent to #1 began when she won her first U.S.Open title back in 1999 at merely 17 years old. Today, at 34 years old, she has become the ultimate icon among aspiring female tennis players throughout the world. Tennis players must train their mind to keep their eye on the ball and never get distracted because each game point puts them one step closer--or further--from the big win. They must not let a double fault throw them into an emotional meltdown. You just gotta keep calm and play on. Every time I watch a Grand Slam tennis match, I am reminded what it takes to fight--and win.

Back to my night at the US Open. When I finally got to Arthur Ashe stadium, I expected to see Serena win just as breezily as she did the night before when she beat Halpin in the quarter-finals. Instead, I had to witness Karolina Pliskova swiftly oust Serena Williams out of the women's semi-finals. It came as a massive shock to all the fans watching the game on huge, high-definition TV screens amid white-washed waterfalls. I got to see the new winner of the match march into the press booth and conduct her interview with ESPN commentators. Karolina had been branded the "under achiever" of the tennis world. But in that moment, no more. Just seeing how an underdog could take down a tennis superstar within 90 minutes and feeling the high electricity in the air created a very special end-of-the-summer moment for me.

My hero, Serena Williams
Sure, it was a hassle driving home for almost two hours and not getting to bed until 12:30am knowing I had to get up at 6am to go to work. But it was totally worth it. I have said it before, and I will say it again and again. As a cancer survivor, seize the moment to go to that event you always planned to attend. Take a shot at trying something you never did before. Get in the car and go to a place you always wanted to see--like I did when I visited Woodstock, NY last August. You're lucky to be alive, so stock up on some great memories.


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