Dear September, you began with the saddest of news. With dark clothes, and borrowed blue handkerchiefs, and photographs that made my heart ache. In your pale light, we cooked up a feast – creamy lemon chicken with mushroom rice, dark chocolate orange and cardamom brownies topped with pistachios – and ate it together: lighting candles, sitting close, lingering long at the table in the golden light, remembering. Because: ‘when you are sad, you need to eat good food’.
You were filled – overflowing, really – with kisses for the tiny cheeks (and head, and arms, and ears, and curling fingers) of our best-loved baby who, this time last year, was only the size of a lemon. (Back then, while it was still a secret, I told class-fulls of strangers about her – ‘my name’s Melissa Reid, welcome to the class, my sister is having a baby!’ – because I needed to get those words out into the world. I needed someone else to know).
You have been tricky at points, September. Doubt, and confusion, and distraction, and many self-directed unkindnesses. Stalling and scrolling and deliberating and questioning whether I am good-enough, talented-enough, anything-enough. You have been a returning to old things for a time: folding laundry, and kicking my shoes off, and slipping under the sheets in this familiar old bedroom. Opening old notebooks and trying to decipher plans scribbled down months ago. Taking a class in mindfulness and learning, once again, from the best teacher I know. You have been putting on an apron – looping the strings around my waist and then, tug, a tight knot at the front – and waiting on tables two days a week to allow me to sit at this keyboard the other five. You’ve been a lesson in humility, September, in learning to be vulnerable, in swallowing pride and trying to be brave – all things, it turns out, that are not so bad to learn. There’s still some way to go…
I could go on listing all the things that you’ve been (noodles on a rainy day before Deborah Frances-White, flowers for my Gran that almost weighed me down, walking along the beach with sand wafting out ahead of our shoes like breath on a cold day, shells in my pocket, long chats on the kitchen work-surface, piling on the sofa with popcorn and pombears to watch the Bodyguard, walking barefoot around a small church in mindful silence, standing close at the top of the hill looking down at the city spread out like stars below us…).
You have been many things.
But the overriding feeling I’m left with when I look back over your 30 days, September, is that while the month may have begun in darkness – and much of it is still there… with the shift in seasons last week, it’s set to get only darker – though you began in darkness, you have ended in cautious light.
On the last of your Fridays, I woke early – my eyes opening before my alarm went off, before the sun was even up – and lay in bed, one hand on my chest, feeling the rise and fall of it, the beating of my heart. And then the sun came: not in a flash, but slowly, pinkly, from behind the hills across the water. Like something blossoming. I almost didn’t notice it until it was already there: a twinkle in the windows of the house across the road, a warm brush of paint across the top of the trees.
May I carry some of that light into the coming season. Thank you for it.
Goodbye September. Hello October. And hello to you, reader. It’s been a while. I’ll say a little more about what this website / blog is later (…or maybe I won’t. Introductions can be clunky. Maybe I’ll just jump right in and go from here. In medias res. We’ll see. For now though, welcome. Hello, hello, hello!)