I’ve felt restless this month, caught between one thing and another, going here and there, completing work, finding new tasks, never quite feeling done. It is a month of muchness: three days of parent-student-teacher conferences and four consecutive weeks of assessment after assessment to read and mark. October is that time of the school year, when we come into our own as students and teachers, reaching into potential more deeply than we did when the leaves were still green and our minds turned back to summer.
Summer feels so distant now. I think I almost dreamed of flying halfway around the world. When I think deeply, I can almost remember how it felt, bent almost double to hike up the Cape of Good Hope, the wind threatening at every angle. I remember the feel of history, of connectedness, in a place that seemed more ancient than my daily life. Perhaps this is how it goes with readers, for those of us who spend our lives reading histories and places and feeling so intimately acquainted with far-off lands that when we get there, we realize our lives have been spent bending us toward this very arc, this moment in time and space.
In October, that all feels so far away, and the promise of future moments too distant. In October, I’ve wrestled to be here. I am present, but unsettled. I feel at all turns like I am forgetting something, but cannot tell you just what. There is no downtime in October of a school year – only momentum.
I think October wants me in books.
In this forward motionness of fall, October calls me to slip between the pages of a story, to still and focus and not worry about what I might be forgetting. October this year has asked me to step outside my life, to spend some moments imagining and traveling much further than I can physically go right now. I didn’t think I had time for such flights of fancy, but I found this weekend they have settled me in ways I needed.
I forgot how great it can be to traipse on the heels of a captivating heroine.
In a history classroom, the forward momentum of the school year always moves us backward. These are the moments when you might best understand why Doctor Who resonates so much with me. Time moves in all sorts of ways, all wibbly-wobbly:
In a single day I jump from ancient Rome to the fall of the Berlin Wall. I contemplate the state of the nuclear world while helping my students consider that maybe we haven’t come so far from the Cuban Missile Crisis after all.
This weekend, I criss-crossed the state, traveling down roads I first met two decades ago. With every mile, I felt the ghosts of my teenage years staring back at me. This must be what happens when you’ve inhabited a space for so long, how it feels to have a sense of your own history of a place.
Things just feel different in October. Where spring and summer held the promise of newness and future, maybe autumn belongs to the past and those of us that love it. In these shortened days and windy evenings, history feels heavier somehow, impossible to ignore.
This is my October, a series of reveries and flurries of emotion I can never quite pin down. This time, it seemed right to embrace it and let it be.