The New Meaning of Octobers

Octobers have a new meaning for me now. I realized this when I answered “October” to a work meeting ice-breaker question, “What is your favourite month of the year?” When, I wondered afterwards, had October become my favourite month? Four years ago, Octobers, to me, meant the monsoon—cool, drizzly days interspersed with angry thundershowers, lightening splitting the sky, and rain drumming heavily against windowpanes. They meant mossy paths and paper boats and wild, verdant ferns bursting out of creviced walls. But with two annual monsoons, each of which lasted about two to three months, a rainy day was just another day, and Octobers had never been a particular favourite of mine. Here, however, in this country of four seasons, Octobers stand out. They mean trick-or-treating and picture-book trees and piles of leaves made for jumping in. They mean Halloween pop-ups and chilly breezes. Somewhere in between 2019—when I left my home in Sri Lanka—and today, I realized that Octobers had changed for me. And so had several other matters—like cottages and koi ponds, black cats, and bookshops. Strength. Writing. Joy. Self-Love. 

It’s an odd thing about life—as it persists, pieces within us move around, rearrange, and settle into different shapes. They shatter and coalesce. Rend and mend. Diffuse and merge. To quote a tired platitude, there is one constant of existence—change. A relentless conveyer belt of out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new. Out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new. A mantra as old as time. 

The last few years have been a strange, ever-shifting time for me, with page after new page, chapter after new chapter, flicking in a high wind—the close of a five-year relationship, the move to a new country, the discovery of snow, the realization of hard truths, the beginning—and approaching end—of an undergraduate degree. In a few more years, Octobers will probably mean something else yet again. But for now, I try to come to terms with life as it is. 

The New Meaning of Strength

Walking away. 
Looking truth in the face. 
Feeling your feelings
instead of beating them down. 
Asking the questions you’re most afraid of: 
Is my heart safe here? Am I happy? Do I deserve this? 
Realizing your worth. 
Realizing your power. 
Realizing that closure should stem from within and not without. 
Putting your trust in deeds; 
it is easy to fall for honeyed words and flamboyant promises, 
harder to face the truth behind actions. 
Making friends with your solitude. 
Making friends with your grief. 
Getting out of bed on dark, snowy days
when ghosts from the past whisper and weep and weigh you down. 
Taking steps to heal from the staccato slaps 
littering your childhood like broken glass. 
Listening to your heart. 
Picking yourself up again… and again… and again.

The New Meaning of Writing

The consequence of a brief flash of a possibility; 
a skeleton of a story; 
a hint of a tune; 
a fleeting glimpse of poem or picture 
in the mundane clutter of everyday. 
Running words through fingers, like sand. 
Turning grief into muse. 
Turning joy into inspiration. 
Solidifying the abstract. 
Making sense of heartbreak. 
Making sense of identity. 
The craft you turn to when something cannot be grasped 
or sung or painted or danced to. 
The immortalization of stories. 
The immortalization of truth. 

The New Meaning of Joy

Dappled tree-shadows. 
Quiet woodland paths. 
Meandering creeks. 
Willows weeping over still ponds. 
The first crunchy leaf. 
The first snowfall. 
The first spring buds. 
Little signs of life—
fuzzy caterpillars on stems, 
blue robin eggs, 
bright-eyed squirrels.
Pebbles on a beach, as countless as stars. 
Sunny dandelions. 
The first jacketless day of the year. 
Bundles of letters tied together with a shoelace
bursting with love and laughter echoing across the intervening years. 
Old keepsakes breathing quietly in dusty memory boxes
waiting to be stumbled upon. 
The smell of new books. 
Ink-spattered fingers, fine-tipped pens, and crisp paper. 
The possibilities of a blank page. 
The sharp edges of an A+. 
The first morning without heaviness. 
The first laughter after leaving. 
Relics from childhood— 
a little stuffed blue donkey, 
a tattered copy of Winnie-the-Pooh, 
a crude crayoned note from a once-little sibling. 
Long-distance calls. 
Quiet moments on a velvet prayer mat. 

The New Meaning of Self-love

Nights out with new roommates. 
Spontaneous trips. 
Affirmations: You are worthy. You are loved. You are complete. 
Kind conversations with yourself. 
Saying no. 
Asking for help. 
Making your bed each morning. 
Acknowledging difficult days. 
Acknowledging pain. 
Acknowledging possibilities. 
The comfort of furry blankets,
hot chocolate,
and dog-eared library books. 
Reveling in aloneness. 
Reveling in aliveness. 
Building dream-towers, splendid accretions 
of visions and wishes and ambitions. 
Scalding showers. 
Warm mugs of coffee. 
Balsam-scented candles and home-made face masks. 
Realizing you are storm and steel, ocean and inferno. 
Realizing you are enough. 

The New Meaning of Octobers

Sunbeams and tree-shadows.
Leaves crunching underfoot.
The best time to take photographs.
The best time to take walks.
Leaves of fire and gold.
The sudden loneliness of chilly winds.
The absence of an arm around a shoulder. 
Grey-skied, gloomy days, when drops of water line eaves
and forlorn robins peck hopelessly for worms.
Damp asphalt reflections.
The smell of pumpkin spice.
Cuddly days and fuzzy robes.
Fingers constantly aching to curl around a hot mug.
Windblown leaves, scudding dryly along sidewalks, 
or swooping and swirling, redolent of dreams. 
Salmon runs.
New horror movies.
The ache of missing someone.
The ache of someone faraway.
New beginnings.

Associate Sports & Health Editor (Volume 49) — Radhia is a fourth-year student double majoring in Biology for Health Sciences and Professional Writing and Communication. She has three years of journalistic experience as a writer in Sri Lanka, and served as Associate Editor for Mindwaves (Volume 16). When she's not writing or studying for midterms, Radhia likes long walks, grey-skied rainy days, and reading children's books (her favourites are Neil Gaiman's Coraline and E.B. White's Charlotte's Web).


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