Fall has always been my favorite season. The relief of cool air after a hot muggy summer. Bright bursts of colorful leaves. Knit sweaters and steamy hot chocolates. Pumpkin bread. Besides the sensory things, it’s also about new beginnings. Even though I’m not a student, the beginning of the school year always feels more like a fresh start to me than January 1. Maybe that’s why the last few times I’ve changed jobs has been in the fall.
But now I live in San Diego where fall is only slightly different from the rest of the year. The sun still shines every day. Mid-October temperatures are still in the 80s. Night comes earlier but it’s not that chilly. Deciduous trees change colors but there aren’t many of them around.
So I miss fall a lot. Pictures show friends back home wearing hooded jackets, taking hay rides, raking leaves. Food bloggers post about the chill in the air inspiring chili on the stove. It turns out that when I miss all those things, though, I end up feeling guilty that I’m not grateful enough for the beauty of San Diego.
This morning I ran across a concept that really resonated with me: the idea of “tiny deaths” resulting from personal choices and life changes. How we should allow ourselves to mourn the tiny deaths of the paths we didn’t take, even if we’re confident we made the right choice. The author described how “there are a number of life choices that could bring us happiness, and for many of the big ones, you have to give something up to have something else. […] This mourning, these tiny deaths — they don’t mean that you aren’t sure. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t choose what was right for you and your family. What it means is that you are human, and that you are able to acknowledge both the happy and the hard nuances of life.”
Missing autumn doesn’t seem weighty enough for a discussion that deep, but it does represent missing the life we left behind to live in San Diego. Overall our year here has been one of the best yet. But even though we made the right choice, I should still allow myself to mourn the good things that would have happened if we had stayed.