It’s the tang of cold air on my top lip. It’s pure physical memory. The only experience of synesthasia I’ve ever known. The sign September has come. The summer has died and we are now in that moment of golden-kissed peace before the ravages of winter.
I love September, that liminal month between glorious summer and glum autumn. That time when there’s still daylight and foliage, though both are gradually disappearing. I love this month with a visceral passion, savouring every last moment until the world surrenders to twilight and barren cold; the marking of time until winter. September is the candle flickering and yet burning brightly.
It’s the tang of cold air on my top lip. It summons memories of change, of starting new things. Not, surprisingly, of the first day of school—those memories are long divorced from me—but memories of coming to adulthood. The evening of my the first day I moved out of my parents to an apartment in Toronto, walking to the Kentucky Fried Chicken near College and Grace streets, realizing that, for the first time, I was really on my own. Walking to my first temp job off of Oxford Street in London on a drizzly Friday afternoon. Sitting in my first class in film school in the concrete fortress of the Ross Building at York University. Sitting in on student orientation during my first year working at my favourite job at a grad school. I envy me in these memories; I feel now so embedded in my age that September is now just another month.
It’s a month I associate with remarkable and sad events. Being stuck in an office with no sense to send people home, relying on e-mails and web news to tell me about the plane crashes that changed the world. Taking the tube to work while listening, perhaps appropriately to Elvis Costello’s “Every Day I Write The Book” on my Walkman while reading the Guardian for details of Princess Diana’s death. It’s also a time I associate with the coming of more serious movies to the cinema—watching Jesus of Montreal—in an empty theatre in 1989—and the coming of the fall TV schedule.
This is the time when I am most likely to attempt to adopt a new routine. The time when I am most likely to start gym memberships, attempt a more regular pattern with my eating, get into a rhythm with riding my bike, start a new class, take up reading the newspaper every day, do something to improve myself. Some take, others don’t, but it’s nonetheless a time where I adopt the mentality of a shark and always move forward.
It’s that period when the colour of the world subtly shifts to a golden hue starting around 5:30 at night. When any walk outside looks heartbreakingly beautiful. When the women I commuted with switched to wearing skirt suits, dresses, pumps and stockings before going to more practical boots and pant suits. When the men around me ruggedly wore leather jackets, except me, who never felt rugged enough, though it is the time of year when I switch from lagers to ale.
It’s the last month where I can really enjoy cycling or barbecuing. And yet, it’s also the time of year that most commands me to be outside. It’s the month I am most likely to say to someone “Let’s go for a walk”.
Perhaps all this is because I know what comes next: a few weeks of vibrant colour and then a surrendering to grey. The forced march to cold, to death, to hibernation. This month is the last gasp of brilliance in the world. This month is the last chance till resurrection.
It’s that tang of cold air on my top lip. My body simultaneously welcomes it, denies it, embraces it, despairs of it. It’s bittersweet. Beautiful but inevitable. September. My fickle lover. I want you, but hate you, but love you.
It’s the last good month.