If you have spent the past week or two in Seattle, you know that it is has been a bizarre hellscape. The smoke (some coming from northern Washington, some from Vancouver, some from Canada, some appearing as if stretching up from the Sound and streets themselves) has kept the city in a hostile sepia. It is eminently bizarre to pass so many people with smoke masks in the middle of the day, and it was hard not to feel the psychic weight of so much dust — as if the ash that wreathed itself on every car and sidewalk was a weight on your scalp.
Today, though, it is somehow autumn.
It won’t be autumn forever — we’ve got, let’s say, fifteen more days of summer to sludge through — but today was autumn. The high was sixty-four degrees, there has been a constant and pleasant drizzle, and I can hear the faint swish of cars tattooing their tracks on the meager puddles outside my door. It is all in my head, but I can feel the rain and gale ushering the smoke to the coast; I can feel myself breathe a little easier.
My friend J is a couple years older than me, and told me that every year comes quicker than the year before it. She described adulthood as — and I’m going to butcher the metaphor, which she phrased much more beautifully than I’m about to — some sort of accelerating centrifuge, where your unit of time starts to shift from day to week to month to season to year.
This weekend felt particularly centrifugal. You do all of the traditional weekendy things: lunch at a Mexican place in Georgetown with H, walk through Crowe Park with M, drink an ill-advised amount of rum with S, play Diplomacy for six hours at and then go to dodgeball to unleash your inner child. And all of the things are fun and lovely but you find little time to breath; you find yourself missing boredom.
And suddenly it is the first Sunday evening of autumn in 2018, and you do not know where the time has gone. It is hard not to feel a little guilty at losing track of things, the way the calendar rips itself away from your grasp.
I’ll be in DC next weekend, a year older than I am right now — 26 instead of 25. Of course, that’s not how birthdays work: you are charging inexorably forward every second and every minute, every step you take in a smoke-filled downtown. But sometimes, on nights like this, when you know you should be reading Augustine but want to fall asleep to the sound of rain, it feels the opposite: like you wake up one day and suddenly a year has passed, and the lines on your brow and shadows on your palms have appeared all at once to greet you from your slumber.
It is good, I think, to lose track of time, but I don’t think I’ve been doing a good enough job of sitting and breathing. In my old apartment, I had one perfect ritual, a bath at the end of the day to force myself to luxuriate in my own silence. I like my new apartment more, but there is no claw foot tub, and thus no ritual, and thus I am out of breath more often than I should be.
But that’s a problem for tomorrow. Tonight is best spent in autumn.
I hope to see you soon.