Fall came rushing into the summer heat last night, and when I woke up this morning, my wooden floors were cold and my fingers were numb. That iconic crisp smell of chilly air filled my room. It’s one of my favorite smells; I’ve waited all year for this weather to come back. Inevitably, with it, comes memories of years prior. The smell carries memories intrinsically tied to moments in my life, and I cannot help but be reminded of my past. Sometimes these memories are good ones, they’re thoughts of the first day of third grade somehow weirdly cataloged in my brain as “the-smell-of-sixty-three-degree-weather-and-cotton-tee-shirts” or memories of my favorite fifth grade teacher remembered by “cold-crisp-air-and-pumpkin-candles.”
This morning wasn’t so pleasant. The past two years for me have been trying, to say the least. When I awoke this morning, I couldn’t help but feel like it was exactly a year ago, at the beginning of my home schooling experience, when things were new and living was difficult. I had just left my public high school and my life had been shaken at its core. I struggled to get up most of those mornings; I wasted hours staring at my phone or sleeping when I wasn’t tired, because I didn’t know what else to do with my being. Certainly, it wasn’t all bad, and a lot of it was new and exciting, but a lot of me was empty and scared.
So when I woke up this morning, I tried to fight my innate association with fall weather and last year. I promised myself if I do things differently, this year won’t so dreadfully mirror the past. If I eat a different breakfast, the creeping feeling of Déjà vu will pass without incident. If I wear different clothing, I won’t feel like the same person I was a year ago. If I read a different book, set my alarm to a different time, or change the songs on my Spotify playlist, it won’t be the same as last year.
But I can’t help shake the feeling of dread creeping into my bones, right along with the cold air. I’m destined to be the same mess, my memories tell me. I’ll never really have my life together, experience taunts me. I’ll always have trouble dealing with little manageable things in life, my brain teases.
This morning I ate a different breakfast than I did last year, I put on different clothing, and I changed the time on my alarm. The feeling of sameness, the feeling of inevitability to repeat the past, still hasn’t left me. But that doesn’t make it true. I am radically different than who I was a year ago. I have fought each day of the past 365, in some battles triumph came easily, others were hard won. But I am a world away from where I was last year, mentally, physically, spiritually. So even though cold autumn air and numb fingers remind me of difficult times, these memories do not mean I have to relive them.