Justin had to turn on the air conditioner again last night.
It's October 26 - doesn't that mean the heater can stay on? Doesn't that mean we're fully in the throes of autumn (the best season)? Doesn't that mean there should be a distinct chill in the air, whether it's 6am or 4pm?
I've always lived in the "south." I put it in quotes, because now I live in North Carolina, and is that really the south? When you're born and raised in Louisiana, I can attest that when you move to North Carolina at the age of twenty-five, you're expecting it to be the North, as its name implies.
But it still gets - and stays - hot here, for a lot of the year. We've all seen the memes that mention "first fall" and "fake winter" and the pits of hell that is summer. It really is true, that meme. I can't tell you how long I held out on turning on the heater, because I wanted to be really sure. It would dip into the 40s, but I'd put on a sweater and go about my day. A cool haze would set about the house at night, but we would put extra blankets on the bed.
But one morning, I woke up, and as I crept down the creaking wooden stairs, I had had enough. I felt certain that, had I blown out any substantial volume of breath, it would have been visible in the dim morning light. So, I did it - I clicked on the heater. I waited for a moment, and there it was, the first-time-you-turn-on-the-heater-for-the-season smell. One of my favorite smells. I went to stand in front of the kitchen sink, with the blessed air vent at my feet, and I felt my toes tingle and thaw. It was bliss.
For days, the heater stayed on. And for days, the temperatures stayed in a non-offensive range. Highs in the low 60s, lows in the mid-to-low 40s. The house felt comfortable, a temperate 72 degrees. The window panes were cool to the touch. I could wear a sweater all day, from school drop off to school pick up, and not break a sweat.
But, slowly, the house felt warmer. Audible expressions of disgust (mine) happened when asking Alexa for the forecast. "Highs in the 70s," she would say. I knew I'd be peeling my sweater off during midday errands, too hot to continue wearing it, but reluctant to stop. I'd put a leg out of the covers when laying down with my kids as they fell asleep. I turned the fans up full blast. I tried to avoid it, I really did.
But last night, there was no denying it. The air conditioner had to be turned back on. Defeat. I admit it.
Is this all a bit dramatic? Of course it is.
But it's all part of the back and forth, the uncertainty, the changing on a pin that is expected in periods of flux. I like feeling firmly planted, in every way. Firmly planted on the ground, firmly planted in autumn, firmly planted in the cool weather season. But that's not how life is. So, we go back and forth. We change, we adapt, we adjust. We turn the heater on, even if it's turned off again the next day. We yield to the back and forth, because we have to.
We have periods of writing, of reading, of experiencing all the richness the arts have to offer. We have periods of survival, of falling into bed right when everyone else does, asleep nearly before head hits pillow. We have periods of social enrichment, of friends and conversations and feeling understood. We have periods of isolation, of hiding in our houses, servants to the chore list, the endless stream of needs and wants and seeming drudgery. We have periods of movement, of walks outside, of post-dinner soccer, of running and swinging and playing. We have periods where we must peel ourselves from the couch, out of bed, off of social media.
But it's never forever, it always changes.
The back and forth.
And I, for one, and still learning how to swing with the changes, how to flow.
But I will keep trying.