Leaves Don't Fall
Leaves don’t fall. Instead, I’ve noticed, they come loose from their branches, twirl upward in tight pirouettes, then float for a moment: Suspended. Only then will they make their grand departure to the ground, twirling still, but this time with more momentum. I’ve noticed this as it is the new view from my bedroom and kitchen windows—tall trees that change color and lose their leaves come autumn. Maybe oak trees, maybe maple? Maybe something I should know, having lived in temperature deciduous Northern Virginia my whole life. But as far as I’m concerned, they’re just tall trees that hug the corners of my apartment, whose leaves dance and float wistfully, later to become percussion for my feet to crunch into.
I think I’ve taken a sudden inventory of the horticulture around me because it’s a nice little detail to add to the list of things I love about this new apartment. Not that the last apartment didn’t have trees, but somehow the trees here—just twenty minutes up the road—seem nicer. They seem to stay orange for longer. They don’t smack into the window panes above my head as I sleep, but rather stand tall a few feet from the window and say, “I’ll be here to greet you when you wake up.” As will the hardwood floors, as will the brick exterior, as will the people and dogs and coffee shops and opportunities all within a few minutes’ walk.
If it isn’t clear to see, the new apartment is good for my mental health. It’s oddly freeing and satisfying to know, if I needed to, I could grab just about anything without starting my car. It’s good to walk and breathe fresh air and smile at strangers. It’s cheesy, sure, and maybe in a few months I’ll be over it, but for now I get giddy and feel like a real city girl every time I walk around the corner to pick up toilet paper. Because there’s nothing sexier and more cosmopolitan than toilet paper.
But on top of the walking, there’s the resting that I enjoy, too. Resting in a little pocket of a city outside the big city, where there’s no sirens and commotion if you don’t want there to be. There’s just this little haven I’ve created with my roommate, full of furniture we own, that we paid for. Sure, it’s half Craigslist and half Target, but it’s wholly ours. It’s decorated with an actual color scheme, and we’ve got throw blankets for if our guests get cold. It’s got lights and heat that come on at our discretion, because we can afford to have electric. And that’s maybe a weird thing to be thankful for, but it’s not lost on me that a lot of people simply can’t do that. Not even in a distant, TV-celebrity-endorsement-infomercial kind of way, but just right down the street. It reminds me of when I was little, and my mom would tuck me into bed on a rainy night. She would say, “I love sleeping with the sound of rain on the roof, but I think about all the people who don’t have a roof.”
Sometimes that’s kind of where my brain needs to go for the sake of my mental health. Because sometimes I get so anxious and irritable that I allow myself to buy into the delusion that I have it bad. I don’t feel guilty for feeling the things I do, but taking notice of trees and electric bills puts it into perspective I guess. There’s people in my life I look at with envy. Toward whom I think, “Wow, if we swapped lives, they wouldn’t know what to do. They can’t imagine what it’s like to be me.” But being me’s not that bad. Being me is being privileged enough to live where I do, affording it on my own dollar—because my parents took care of me and my finances for a long time. Being me is being meticulous and worried about things that maybe don’t matter, but that translates into being a hard worker and an amazing observer and one hell of a loyal friend. And maybe we’d all be a little better off if we thought more about what we have, rather than what we lack. Maybe we turn our gripes into celebrations, our worries into wonderings. Maybe we all just wake up a little earlier than we need to, solely for the purpose of watching leaves float off of the trees.