Dear October (2016)

October 31, 2016

Every year, I write letters to the month of October. I’m not always consistent with it, and it’s not always on my blog… but I think about it a lot throughout the year. In 2016, I was blogging on a different site, and despite migrating that site to my own domain, I lost everything on that site through what is known as The Great Database Deletion (it’s really not) where I managed to delete the database for three websites in about twenty seconds, and then listened to tech support give me false information on how to get my site back. Anyway. This is a compilation of my letters to October from 2016 (find letters from 2015 here).


Dear October,

It’s September 20th, and I’m waiting for you. I’ve been waiting for you, but I’m still surprised that you’re so close. This happens every year, so I don’t know why it happens anymore. I think I’ll miss the surprise if it ever stops coming.

I wanted to write you a note, October, because I had a longing for you today. When I think of you, I think of the way you exist in the North – crunchy leaves and chunky sweaters – not the way the South experiences your presence. I know that you bring the cooler weather here, but it’s not immediate. I normally love the sunshine and heat, but I’m just in a state where I want to bundle up with a cup of tea and a good book in front of the fireplace.

You’ll be a busy season for me, October. I’ve got two, maybe three, trips happening while you’re here and I’m not ready for any of them. I should make the most of the sunshine today, because I know that once your cooler weather rolls around, I’ll get lazier.

See you soon, October.

Day 1

Dear October,

I’m in Chicago for your arrival this year. The weather is cool here, like it should be when you make your debut. I’m not usually excited for chilly, rainy weather; I’m a fan of sunshine and shorts, convertible rides and beach days. Yet as I walked through the streets of downtown this morning on my way to get a donut, it felt refreshing and perfect. I was able to really enjoy your first day with me this year, October, in a way that I don’t normally.

There’s something romantic about a rainy autumn morning. It makes me want large windows overlooking a city, with a cup of tea and a thick blanket. I can imagine people moving quickly through the rain, clutching umbrellas and wearing jackets. As they walk, the cars pass them, headlights cutting through the rain. This morning, I didn’t have to imagine it. This morning, October, I got to watch it happen.

I want to keep the image in my mind forever. The streetlights were still on at nine o’clock in the morning. The sky was dark, but not with angry storm clouds. The sky just seemed closer, and far more grey, and not in the way that makes me depressed and wish for sunshine.

I spent all day thinking of what to say to you, October. Yet here I am, with two hours until our first day together is over, unable to put my thoughts into words in a way that conveys my emotions. Still, today was a wonderful day overall. I spent it with my best friend,  I ate good pizza, and I had two donuts.

I read through my letters to you from last year. I don’t think I was in the greatest state of mind for most of your time here, October, but I hope I’m in a better one this year. I enjoyed reading my letter to you about NerdCon: Stories. I’m excited to go back this year, for what will probably be the actual last year of the convention – not just my last year. That makes me a little sad, of course, but I also have a longing to repeat the events of last year. It was so much fun, and I don’t know if I can top it this year. I don’t want to taint it with the expectations from last year. I don’t know what I can hold on to and bring back, and what I should let stay in the past. I don’t know what to do, October, and it’s making me anxious.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll make the most of a morning in downtown Chicago, though I don’t really know if everything is open on Sunday morning. I guess I’ll find out, and I’ll let you know.

Until then, my dear October.

Day 2

Dear October,

I’m writing this from a Starbucks – the one at N Wells Street and W North Avenue, to be exact. It’s not downtown. It’s been a weird day.

Meagan had another mock trial, but I didn’t get to go. That was probably for the better; mock trial stresses me out. Instead, I explored on my own. You see, I love wandering around cities by myself. There’s something magical about being in a place and pretending to live there. I walk, take public transportation, and ebb and flow with the crowd. I stop into stores and I don’t mind walking several blocks for a picture.

I’d heard about a gluten free bakery and wanted to find it. The thing with Chicago is that it’s big. Meagan lives in the Loop, but there are so many things outside of that area that we just can’t walk to. Sometimes Meagan is fine with traveling out of the Loop to explore, but sometimes she’s just not thrilled about the idea. That’s okay. That’s why I went by myself.

It’s strange to be in this city and alone. I’m not really alone, per se, because I’m surrounded by people. But I’m alone in the sense that my normal Chicago buddies aren’t with me. I’m on my own. I’m in this Starbucks because it started raining, and my phone needed charging, and I needed to sit down for a while. But I’m also in this Starbucks because I needed to soak up the moment.

The bakery was in Andersonville. I got on the Red Line at Jackson and got off at Berwyn. I walked several blocks over and instantly fell in love with Andersonville. The gluten free bakery was glorious – it’ll have a post of its own – and the vibe of the neighborhood was wonderful. I sat outside at a Starbucks (not this one), at a piece of pumpkin crumble cake, and watched the people go by. It was so nice.

October, I want to move to this city. I really do, and I have for a long time. I’m afraid, though. I’m afraid that I’ll fall out of love with it; that it won’t be magical anymore if I’m here everyday. I’m afraid I’ll lose one of the loves of my life.

In a few minutes, I’m going to pack up my laptop and take my coffee down to North Avenue Beach. I’m going to sit there for a while and watch the lake. I’m going to take a few pictures for my mom and then I’m going to go back to Meagan’s apartment. I’ll probably be in the 5 o’clock rush, which I probably would be smart to avoid. I don’t have to go to the beach. Maybe I shouldn’t. But I think I’m going to anyway.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow, October.

Day 3

Dear October,

Another Chicago day, another Chicago Starbucks. This time, I’m at the one by Meagan’s law school. I’m done with breakfast and am about to go wander a little in hopes of recreating a photo I saw yesterday. But first, let me tell you about this Starbucks and why I love it.

First of all, I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite. The inside is crowded and the baristas are only moderately friendly. The one across from the Art Institute – that one might be my favorite. But that’s a different story.

This Starbucks is at Jackson and Wabash. The L trains run every few minutes in both directions directly in front of where I’m sitting. It’s loud and I love it. You can’t tell from the picture, but the street lights are still on across the street. I’m not sure why.

The street is never quiet. The stream of cars is steady. The stream of people is, too. Some might be tourists, here on vacation and enjoying the city, but most look like they belong here. Business men and women, students, even a guy carrying a full sized ladder. I wonder where he was heading.

The thing with this city is you don’t really get to ask. The city moves and doesn’t have time for a nosy onlooker. Normally I want to know everything, but I think this time, the city can keep its secrets.

Day 4

Dear October,

I did a very minimal amount of things today. It wasn’t unpleasant, so this isn’t complaint. It’s just a change from the several days previously.

I’m at my grandmother’s house today, October. There’s something about this house that feels like home. It’s not quite as home as my own house is, but it feels close. I can close my eyes and walk around the house in my mind, knowing all the little details I’ve memorized over my lifetime.

This house is very close to the O’Hare airport, which means it’s constantly on a flight path. The sound of airplanes very close overhead is more comforting than the silence. One is passing overhead right now. I wish I knew where the planes were coming from or going to (because despite watching them from my bedroom window for many years, I still have no idea whether they’re taking off or landing, but I suspect that they’re landing), because I’d love to be on a plane that flew over my grandmother’s house. I’m sure I’d annoy whomever was sitting next to me. I know that house; the one right there. I’ve spent a lot of time there. I do that whenever I fly over my old high school, and that’s a far less special place compared to this house.

When my cousin and I were kids, my grandmother kept chocolates in little tins inside the strange bookshelf/half wall by the virtually unused front door. (I say that because I can never remember going out it. I either use the garage door or the back door. I don’t even know how to unlock the front door, but that’s where the mail comes to.) I don’t remember when the chocolates stopped being there, but I do remember the first time I went looking for one and found plants sitting in the hollowed out space that is the top of that wall thing. I remember feeling like I had grown up in a way I didn’t expect to. It very likely had nothing to do with me; my grandmother may have wanted to put plants there, or she didn’t want the chocolates to live there anymore. Still, it felt strange.

I’m not good with change. I can normally count on this house to not change much, even though my visits are normally months apart. I haven’t noticed any major changes this time, but I was just here a handful of weeks ago. The leaves have barely started changing, so there is some comfort in that.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow, my dear October.

Day 5

Dear October,

This one will be on the short side; it’s fairly late and I probably should be asleep. I didn’t forget about you, October. I’ve been thinking about you all day.

I sat outside and read today. I wore jeans and a t-shirt, and it was comfortable. There aren’t many days when the weather is so nice and I wanted to make sure to enjoy it.

My cousin and I went to Starbucks tonight. That’s nothing out of the ordinary; coffee is kind of our thing. The interesting part was really quite normal and miniscule. On the drive back, she commented that very few of the neighbors put up Halloween decorations. It could be that it’s still early in the month, but she guessed it was because there were fewer kids in the neighborhood.

That hit me pretty hard. I love decorating, but we don’t do it much, either. I sometimes wonder if I will, when I’m out on my own. Will I want to? If I do, will I get around to doing it properly? I guess only time will tell.

I had a moment of longing today where I wanted to see the neighborhoods filled with Christmas decorations. I know it’s far too early for that, but knowing that I probably won’t be back for Christmas is something I’m not used to yet.

Goodnight, October. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Day 7

Dear October,

I didn’t write to you yesterday, but you already know that.

My cousin turned 23 yesterday. That’s so hard to believe. I won’t say anything that might embarrass her, but I will say that it’s strange. It’s strange being an adult and it’s strange that my younger cousin is 23.

It’s also kind of cool. We’re adults and we can go to starbucks late at night and talk (or not, because we kind of just scroll through Pinterest and comment back and forth about what we see).

But mostly, October, it’s strange. She found a picture of us in the bathtub from ages ago and we joke about it now. Neither of us are particularly big, but I don’t think we could both fit into my grandmother’s bathtub. The days of bath playtime and the cabinet under the sink being full of mostly toys is long over. That’s a little sad.

Today we went to Mecum, a car auction, and it was fascinating. There were so many cars. There was also a fabulous antique pink kitchen set, and I kind of wish I could take it all home with me.

Tomorrow, we’re going hiking, October, and I’m going to collect pinecones. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get them home, but I’m going to collect them anyway.

I’ll write to you tomorrow, October. I’ll write about pinecones and hiking and how fitting it is that tomorrow is about those things. You’ll understand. I know you will.

Day 8

Dear October,

I thought about writing yesterday, but I chickened out. I want to write about pine cones and hiking, but I don’t want to write about your 8th visit. I will anyway.

October 8th is a day I’ve wanted to forget. It’s the birthday of someone I used to be very close to, and someone who I’m not close to anymore. He loved hiking and once brought me back a pinecone, because he knew I loved them. He still loves hiking and I still love pinecones, but we don’t speak. I’m not sad about that, until I am, but mostly I’m not.

I spent yesterday at Starved Rock with my cousin and her (our) friend. I took 18,000 steps, climbed more stairs than I care to remember, and woke up very sore, but it was worth it. The leaves were just starting to change colors. The air was crisp and cool, but sunny and warm enough to only need one jacket. We got there early, so we were ahead of the crowds in most places, meaning we got to do a lot of the hike without other people crowding us. It was beautiful.

I didn’t find a single pine cone.

My cousin, aunt, and I went on a nighttime pinecone hunt and found a bag full, and my grandmother had some from Wisconsin, so I’m still going home with some. I still love them. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t find any at the park.

Tomorrow I leave this city. I don’t have enough space to properly express how this makes me feel, but it’s just as hard to leave here as it is to leave home. I have a habit of leaving my heart in places, and this is probably the most prominent. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not, but it’s just how I am. It’s going to make picking a place to live extremely difficult. I could look at it a different way; I have so many places I already love, so I can go to any of them and be happy. We’ll see how it goes when that time comes.

I’m leaving this time without knowing when I might be back. For as long as I can remember, I could pretty much pinpoint when my next visit would be. When I left after the summer, I’d be back for Christmas. After Christmas, I’d be back in the summer. Even after my last visit, I said I’d be back for the birthdays. I’m here now, October, and I’m leaving, and I don’t know when I’m coming back. That scares me. It might scare me enough to really look at moving here in 2017. Wouldn’t it be strange if I wrote to you next year from my own home in this city, instead of Meagan’s or my grandmother’s? Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

I’m sleeping with the window partway open tonight, October, because it’ll be the last time I can for a while.

Goodnight, October. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Day 15

Dear October,

I haven’t forgotten about you.

I got home and was told of some horrible news; news that I’m not posting on the internet [to my friends and family: it has nothing to do with me or my family. It’s about a family friend], but news that left me wondering what I could possibly say.

And then I went to NerdCon: Stories.

A complete overview of that will come later – I sat down to write the thoughts swirling around in my mind but now that I’m here, I’m just too overwhelmed to come up with actual sentences. The convention was wonderful and I desperately hope that it will defy the odds and come back next year. I’m remaining hopeful but bracing for the worst.

Goodnight, October, and Minneapolis. I’ll write to you tomorrow (probably from an airport).

Day 16

Dear October,

I told you I’d write to you today, and I am, but not with the story I planned to tell you today.

I’m tired, October. I can’t think of things to tell you so instead I’ll tell you about you. You showed up vividly in Minneapolis, with reds and oranges and yellows, and a bite in the air and less light than dark in the days. Then I flew home and was greeted with 93 degree weather and a ride in my dad’s convertible. I’m going to LA next week, October, and I imagine you’ll be less prevalent there than I would probably like.

I have so many things to do tomorrow, and I’ll probably do them all in shorts.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you the story of NerdCon.

Day 19

Dear October,

I’m finally writing to you from an airport; it’s just not the one I thought it would be. You see, I’m back in an airport, and I have some time, and it’s probably going to be the only break I have today.

I’m in Phoenix, or PHX if you speak airline. I’m not in love with the airport, but to be fair, I don’t think I’ll need to be. I can’t imagine I’ll be here frequently. (Watch as the universe turns and I’m here all the time. Please, no. Let’s not do that.)

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy 5am flights. Not the waking up at 2:30 part, or the getting two and a half hours of sleep part… no, definitely not those things. It’s the part where I get to see cities, asleep, from the sky. The black buildings and the warm lights, dotting throughout the streets and identifying office buildings. The cars on their way somewhere, driving by their headlights and the occasional streetlight.

It’s what I grew up with. Early morning flights to Chicago, where we ended up in Dallas before 7am. It’s the reminder that everyone is asleep except for this tiny group of people who are all traveling somewhere at the same time I am.

It makes me feel both significant and insignificant.

Day 31

Dear October,

I’m writing this much later than the end of your time here, but I’m posting it so that it flows properly. Please forgive me.

You were a roller coaster of a month, October. I had some wonderful times and I also got ridiculously sick. I had so many things to tell you and it never seemed like I had the time to sit down and actually write to you. I’m not sure if I did better than last year, because despite not being in school, you were still incredibly hectic.

This is goodbye, my dear October, until next year. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll do or who I’ll be, but I’ll write to you again.

See you soon, October.

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