This is sort of heretical given that one of the prime benefits of academia is supposed to be "having summers off," but I have never been a big fan of summer. It's too hot, the clothes are too skimpy, I hate to sweat, I burn in the sun, and everything is so unstructured. As all academics know, you don't actually get summers "off" - you just get to use that time to try to accomplish all the things you don't have enough time to do during the school year. (Or, you're teaching, which is tough on both prof and students and sort of defeats the point of having summers "off.") Sure, the advent of fall makes clear how much you did/didn't accomplish, which can be depressing - but it's also the beginning of a new semester/school year, which feels fresh and exciting and full of potential, regardless of what did or didn't happen in the previous three months.
For all those reasons, I've always loved fall. It leads you to new things. The weather is GORGEOUS - cool nights, sunny days, blue skies, crisp air. After the summer glare, even the gray days are welcome. And leaves changing color is perhaps my favorite thing in the world. Sure, nothing compares to the fiery reds of New England maples, but golden aspens out west are pretty gorgeous, too. I love boots, I love sweaters, I love jackets, and I love the fun of rediscovering them again after putting them away for the summer. And the return of stews, warm cozy foods, apples and cider and pumpkin flavors, doesn't hurt either.
This year feels different, though. For the first time, this summer felt like the golden bubble of relaxation it's always billed as being - maybe because working 9-5 meant I was never overwhelmed with all this open time and the need to try to fill it productively. Long days and short nights make it feel like you have more free time off work, and everyone slows down just a little.
Now, the signs of fall approaching - shortening days, cooler evenings, brown creeping round the edges of leaves - feel like an ending rather than a beginning. And while usually something has to end for something else to begin, I tend to find endings inherently melacholy, even when positive. (For instance, I was sad after my dissertation defense, because even though I was thrilled to finish grad school, it meant grad school was over!) Leaves changing color look more like decay this year. (Of course, nothing's really changing color yet - it's just been so dry here, stuff is dying.)
It's not hard to figure out why this summer is different: I'm leaving Current City. On Thursday, we pick up a moving truck. That afternoon, a couple of guys I found through the internet will help us load the truck, and Friday bright and early we'll load the cats in their carriers and drive to Next City, where my next gig begins.
And I'm excited for that gig, I really am. If I imagine being able to wake up in the morning here in Current City, and, instead of taking the bus to current gig, drive over to the federal courthouse, I'm hugely excited. (Also slightly terrified, but eh.) It's just that I really love Current City. I never expected to live here - in fact, since moving out here, NLLDH and I periodically turn to each other and say, "How did we end up HERE?" - and I don't have any connections here or, really, reason to come back. It's kind of like a little fairy oasis that appeared in our lives at the right time, which will retreat again as we move on to other things. I could be wrong, of course - and I'd be very happy to come back here and settle here. But I don't have any reason I have to be here, and will be applying for jobs elswhere. NLLDH is also job searching, and he's looking at openings around the country.
(When I say I have no reason to come back - I do know very cool people from law school that I hope to stay in touch with. But I don't feel like I've put down roots here strong enough to pull me back in the future.)
Chances are Next City will not be the place I will settle to spend the rest of my life. And honestly, between the two of us, I don't know if we will ever settle in one place - what we want to do with our careers seems to keep getting in the way. No matter how I try, I can't quite seem to prioritize settling down over trying for certain career paths (and even if I did, NLLDH doesn't).
But I hope - I really hope - that maybe the next place, that will be where we stay. That I can keep this new sense of summer relaxation, but that fall can be favorite season again.