Monday, October 02, 2006

in from the cold

I'm listening to Ani Difranco and I'm making my way through town at nine o'clock on a Friday night. It is the perfect fall night. Not the kind that's bitter cold or heavy with damp. Just cool enough to chill your fingertips and slide across your shoulders. Cool enough for a thick sweater or a latte or a hug to warm you up.

The lights inside the diner and the sweet shop and even the bars is a little stronger, a little warmer. You can see the people inside. They're being handed menus or ice cream sundaes or beer in frosty mugs. Everything is warmer this time of year. Inside, rather than out - of course. Just like everything else. Most satisfaction is found in time with friends rather time out and about doing anything but just sitting and spending time.

I tan in the fall rather than the summer. I'm out more in the fall. That's when I care about what I look like. I want to look good in a sweater and jeans. I like walking through bitter cold to recharge under florescent lights so I walk out all warm and toasty.

As I drive through town, I start to think about all the things I love about the fall. The leaves crackling under the feet of trick-or-treaters, the smell of bonfires. Dinners out. Or in a home that smells warm with a movie in the DVD player waiting and wine in wine glasses. Turkey and cranberries.

I've been stuck on used to be lately. I don't know how this ties into my Friday night drive - except that the comfort I felt as I drove through town was sadly unfamiliar. I used to be more optimistic. I used to be more confidant than I am now. Now, every story is a failure, every homework assignment not good enough. Any amount of sleep is lacking what it should be. I used to be more comfortable.

What makes us comfortable? What consoles us when it's cold outside? Is it just a matter of thought - or something more physical? A person or a thing or a place? On Friday after some late night shopping, I'll sit with a friend and for a moment - the anxiousness will ease. Saturday night it will be the touch of cold beer in plastic glasses and the buzz that comes with them that will oddly make me feel less distressed than I seem to be lately. Sunday it will be dinner with my mother, her boyfriend and my little brother. A real dinner. With people. And laughing.

So I imagine that's what all those people were doing on Friday night. Finding comfort in diners and bars and sweet shops when they can't find it elsewhere.

Finding the warm inside...when it's cold out.

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