The Day Before The First Day

Painting: Fall Blueberries by Laura Tasheiko
Painting: Fall Blueberries by Laura Tasheiko

I ran this morning. For months now, running has caused me angst. I want to run in theory. But when I actually find a moment where running is possible, I’m overcome by lethargy. My muscles feel preemptively sore. But this morning, the day before the first day of autumn, I wanted to run. There was no dread, just a slowly rising sun, a blue sky, and long shadows.

I ran my five-mile route—a route that I’ve been putting off for weeks. The sun came through in pieces through the leaves. I took in my favorite sights: the field of cows with their quickly growing calves, the blueberry fields already turning red, the bright open field that opens just after the forest. A young deer crossed in front of my path. (This is what I love about Olympia: run five miles and you can pretend you live out in the countryside.)

While I ran, my mind stayed busy rehearsing for tomorrow, the first day of fall quarter. Always in the days before I meet my new students, I practice who I will be. I am my best self in those first few weeks, my spirit restored from summer. My students file in with the intention of doing everything right. They laugh easily at my jokes. I intend to be consistently inspiring, clear, and Prepared for Anything. By November, though, the sky will cloud over, the stacks of papers will roll in, and we all will submit to the grind. Here and there I will drop the ball. Here and there my students will test me. By December we’ll be ready for the end.

But for now I’ll just linger in autumn’s brightness. I know it won’t last, but still I’ll reap its pleasures.