I never really experienced fall until I came to Bard. As a child growing up in New York City, I noted the changing seasons in unique ways. In spring the pansies in the small flower beds surrounding the trees on my block were in magnificent bloom. As summer arrived, subway cars became air conditioned, the sidewalks began to smell of baked garbage, and the dreadlocked man outside the Job Lot on Broadway would once again be wearing cowboy boots with spurs and red hot pants. I could always tell winter was approaching because it would be nearly dark when I came up out of the subway station on my way home from school. And in fall the air seemed crisper, sweeter, laden with the scent of store employees rushing around with skeleton decorations and orange crepe paper. But I never really noticed the leaves changing until I got to Bard, when they were all I could look at, until they were gone. And then they were all I could jump on, until I found a boyfriend. After four years on cross-country, I also began to equate fall with pain, running, more pain and getting up early on Saturday mornings. But all in all, I enjoyed spending it at school in the Hudson Valley.
I am having a little trouble figuring out what to think of fall now that I am a college graduate. Last spring I worried that I was going to have a hard time adjusting to life after college. Then, over the summer, I naively congratulated myself on a separation well done. “I don’t miss school one bit,” I thought, well-adjustedly. “Look at me. I’m doing great. Ha, ha, wee!” Of course, nobody else was in school either at that point, but that somehow didn’t seem important. And then, around mid-August, I began noticing store posters showing children with gleaming teeth and striped shirts reminding me it was almost time to go “Back to School.” I couldn’t walk through a drug store without staring wistfully down aisles crammed with three-ring-binders and shiny folders decorated with anonymous, unaffiliated robot action heroes and candy-colored unicorns. I stood in line, wishing I was buying a new Trapper Keeper, and flipped through teen magazines with headlines that read, “Seven hot new back-to-school outfits that will make everyone forget how no one liked you last year.” And then, come September, everyone went back to school, and I…went back to work, at my summer job, which had suddenly turned into a fall job, also known as a job.
I promise this column isn’t going to turn into a forum in which I whine about how I miss college. At least, not until I run out of money, at which point this may become a forum for me to whine about how hungry I am. But for now at least, I’m trying to give life-after-college a chance. After all, the last time I wasn’t enrolled in any sort of school system, I was two feet tall and thought the Pillsbury Dough Boy lived under my parents’ bed. Now I’m 5’4”, and think there might be money in publishing.