How It Stirred You

88th between Riverside and West End, Be happy for its death and the space that it left. Open the window.


While the summer sun is a lulling warm touch, the Fall breeze has a way of stirring you, a way of kicking up the dust inside you and bringing that stored sunshine to the surface.

It gives tiny goosebumps on your soul and makes your heart stir in your throat and blows its breeze back through your fingertips, though the ends of your summer-bleached hair, blowing a cloud of change around your fading freckle-face. The pink-cheeked pallor of season change changes you.

I spent a lot of time on my front porch as a child, mostly locked out and grown too tall to squeeze under that space left between the chain-lock and the heavy wooden back door. We had recently gotten screens for the front windows and so that indoor escape was closed too. I would practice my arabesques on the porch with the Fall breeze glancing my balance, waiting for someone to let me in, but happy to be free.

We sit on my balcony now and stare at the lights on distant mountains, that same feeling of chance and careful balance. I am letting the breeze blow through me. To be the one that changes, you have to be the one that believes the hardest, the real-ist. You have to believe hard enough to make something real because even if it never ever was, you’ll be the only one to let it go. You made it and held it and opened your hand to let it blow away.

In my small Manhattan apartment, I planted a tomato plant that grew as tall as the big bay windows of my brownstone; it was worthy of Jack and smelled like the summer. I fertilized it and gave it water, but not too much. I opened the white poplin curtains to let in the sun and repotted it as it grew bigger and bigger. As the light changed and the days grew shorter, it produced exactly one tomato that I carefully sliced and shared at the small light blue salvaged Formica-and-chrome two-top that was our dinner table. The tomato plant slowly died as the light grew darker, but it was my summer sun and I had believed in its bloom even though it only did give me just one thing.

Believe the biggest. Change the fullest. Let the breeze blow and know that you are ready to change with the seasons. Sit exposed and move freely, testing your balance and your solitude. Remember how it stirred you. Remember that the sun is warm and constant but the breeze blows free and changes. Sit outside and not know what you will get when you give, not know where you will go. Store up the sun inside of you and let it rise through the chill on your skin. Let it take you where you can’t break into because you have grown too tall. Eat only one tomato but be glad that it grew, think of the deep roots and the soil and the pots you found for it. Be happy for its death and the space that it left. Open the window.