When fall finally begins to settle in, I think my body feels very similar to the house. I am relieved and grateful that my skin is no longer hot to the touch. I don’t have to worry that the sweat will drop down my knees and shins and I sit on the porch, trying to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee in the soupy morning air. When I go to bed at night I won’t toss and turn despite the AC. There’s something about the AC that makes me feel worse about the heat. I feel like I’m being pumped full of fake air; some invisible substance created in a lab. I worry that as I inhale during REM, my insides are slowly being turned to slime. When the fall nights arrive, I feel the real air blow in through the window, and I visualize the oxygen clearing out the toxic, slime-inducing chemicals. As I sit on the porch, the coffee is steamy and perfect; it doesn’t add to the sweat beading on my forehead. I can even feel the goosebumps raise up on my arms as if they’re trying to shield me from the chilly breeze. My nipples hurt a little, and I get a whiff of the flowers next door. My skin is once again cool and smooth. The red, sticky feel of summer is gone.
I imagine the house feels this way too. During the summer heat, the floorboards swell and rise. The doors stick just enough to be frustrating. The lights take an extra second to turn on, as if the humidity has invaded the wires and clogged them so electricity might not pass. Every surface has a moist slick; a sticky feel that turns the bottom of feet into magnets for dirt. Nothing ever feels clean no matter the amount of scrubbing or dusting or wiping. And in the night I can feel the house groan under the weight of the heavy summer air. But when the fall comes, everything changes. The boards shrink to their original size. The doors and lights return to their normal quickness, and it is surprising when a door flies open on the first gentle tug. During the night I imagine the house wants to flip itself inside out. The cool breeze will clean the wood, chase away the slick, and every piece of furniture and chachka it touches will smell faintly of the flowers next door.
But I also feel the tiny autumn sprout of darkness begin to blossom in the very back of my brain. If I was to try and remove it, I would have to open my skull at the very base; right where spine meets cranium. It is there that I feel the dark pallor of winter begin its annual invasion.