My stomach roils. As it, too, has done, almost without fail, for weeks. First nerves. Then the flu. Then flu and nerves together. Now nerves again. Nerves. Every day. Sometimes barely noticeable. Sometimes quite pronounced. Livable. But always there.
Quiet and constant. More subdued today. Getting better all the time. But.
It is time for this semester to be over. I have thought that too for weeks. Every day. In some sense. Without fail. It hasn't changed anything. It hasn't sped up the calendar. Or loosened the nerves. The days slush past in sickly, stressful stasis.
Time to go home. And stay home. For a long time. And give my body time to just relax and remember what normalcy feels like. Time to be done with this semester. To take note of the high points, scrap the rest and never look back.
Time for change. In routine. In thought process. In feeling. Something lasting. Calming. Something good. Alive.
Not today, though. Not tomorrow. Not next week. The semester, winding down, still stretches into the future. With final projects only adding to the picture. And the stress.
Outside the newsroom, through the window and between the blinds, the trees stand largely bare, their branches skewering the air. Except one huge, bright orange oak shading our building. A happy spot. The sun smiles from a spotless sky, and the temperature feels like early September. Friendly and fresh, without the bite of winter to it.
But the oak tree is not fooled.
I glance out the window every so often while at my desk. Look at the orange leaves on the tree, contrast them with the naked bark and branches further out. These were stripped in the first storm some weeks ago. The orange tree held on and makes this Indian summer perfect.
It has been a good semester. There have been orange leaves too, not just bare branches. Many orange leaves, in fact. Perhaps I should not look forward so much. But live in the now and focus on the leaves and not so much on my stomach.
Still. I am ready for a change in season. Change of scene.
I glance out once more. And notice now a leaf or two float past. Gently, as if on a soft breath. Look back at the story I'm editing. Glance at the list of never-to-be-published headlines declaring Republican victory and Romney triumphant and frown. Again. We need change.
Again I glance out. And now it's raining leaves. Beautiful, sun-kissed orange leaves fluttering down and past the great newsroom windows to the ground. They skitter en masse across the sidewalk as the air stirs.
It is supposed to rain tomorrow. Then snow. Then warm up only marginally.
I think the oak knows its time has finally come. It wants to bow out gracefully.
As I watch, the forces of low-pressure zoning gather outside, and the oak lets its leaves fly, like orange feathers from a huge pillow. The leaves shudder on the swaying branches before thrusting off to fall. But they do not fall. At least, I do not see them touch ground. The air picks them up and carries them off, and I watch them blow past the window. Leave. For good. To some marvelous away. Flying.
An illusion. A comfort, nonetheless.
I am silly. I know. I shouldn't complain. Life is good. Great, even (the parts that aren't un-great). But today, change feels like a really good thing.
I watch the tree empty, one flurry of leaves at a time, watch the lulls when nary a leaf releases and the gusts when a cloud of them clamors past. Something stirs within me. Just a little, but alive again. I all but forget my stomach, my assignments, my worries, my impatience. Outside I catch the glimmer as if from the other side of the tunnel.
It has been a good autumn. It is a beautiful day. And I can believe that even better days are just ahead.
Because the wind is back.