I Feel Most Like Myself In The Fall


I blame it on Carl Jung.

It’s autumn in Ohio and I am at loose ends, a ship unmoored, a balloon untethered, a body loafing on a sofa. I’ve packed away my sultry summer self and instead of unveiling a snappier incarnation, I’m back to my default state. A sort of self-deprecating malaise. As always at times like these, my dream life becomes thousand-hued and increasingly surreal while my waking life slowly drains of color.

I’ve been making forays to the library, checking out novels and books about witches and magic and dreams. I started with Freud, who told me all my dreams are wish-fulfillment and surely my most fervent wish is for a penis. Pass. Surely I don’t wish to be in a room that suddenly fills with sulfurous gray water, bobbing along in the flotsam of broken lamps and teacups and telephones. I’d rather not be in the bombed out city, army crawling through bursts of flame and misshapen bodies toward the shelter of an upended tractor-trailer, always waking just as the faceless man grabs my leg and points his gun. And what does the underground cave that is also somehow my childhood home have to do with….wait, never mind. Return to the womb. Got me there, you smug bastard.

Next I read Jung’s Man and his Symbols. I’ve always been taken by the theory of the Collective Unconscious as a deep ocean of human memory connecting us all. But this new reading fleshed out so much of my discontent.

I’ve always had the nagging sense that I was born in the wrong time and am daily baffled by the pointlessness of modern life. Like I’m trapped in this fucked-out, last gasp of humanity.

Everything seems like a cardboard cutout of something that used to be real. Reading the Jung comforted me. It soothes me to know the pagan blood of all my forebears still pulses within me. That deeper still, my cold reptilian brain watches my wriggling human self with a predatory gleam.

My most secret thoughts are rife with myth and lore and superstition. It explains why the calendar pages turn and appointments are made and kept, but I’m always waiting for the ritual. Waiting for the epoch.

Autumn is the only season that mirrors this feeling inside me. It is my favorite season and seemingly everyone else’s. My Instagram feed is all angora sweaters slipping from bare shoulders and manicured hands clutching coffee cups-nails painted dark, dark, dark. Everyone loves the chill in the air and the football games and even the piles of pumpkins seem to shout that we may be in a dying world, but we’re still rich enough to use foodstuffs as decoration.

But what I love about fall is the longing.

If spring is hopefulness and winter melancholy, autumn is wild, wondrous longing. Nostalgia wafts. Twilight creeps. Morning fog encroaches. The cardboard cutouts of witches and ghouls and goblins come alive and do their jagged dance. For the briefest time magic seems possible again. It seeps into our drinking water and we drink it like a tonic.

Never is the divide between my modern self and my primal one more sharply defined. Part of me wants to buy a vintage jacket with a mink collar, part of me wants to wear animal hides and horns, cloven hooves unfurling from the tips of my little toes, my mouth bright with blood. I want to get lost in dark woods, my pockets jingling with trinkets and treasures and teeth. I want to hear the rapping on the underside of the table and converse with the spirit world. I want to be with my coven naked in the light of the full moon. I want to meet my own ghost.

Instead days pass much as they always do. I work and sleep and fuck and eat. I wear sweaters and drink hot tea just like everyone else. I scribble in my journal and read my books. I make a playlist of songs about the moon. I watch the leaves fall, the crayon box colors of burnt sienna and harvest gold.

I muse that another year is ending and I still have not managed to fashion myself into anything that feels real.

At night with head on pillow, still the longing beats its wings inside my chest. I think of things I can’t quite remember and things I want to forget. At last, ever so slowly, sleep comes and my fists uncurl and I dream of strange mists and mossy broken skyscrapers and smooth obsidian-surfaced lakes until finally, I am a winged creature flying somewhere warm for winter.