There is nothing like autumn in Pennsylvania. The smoky smell of the air. The cold damp of the days. Orange and yellow and red â€“ everywhere! The scraping of leaves skidding along the street. Snuggling into sweaters that have been packed away all summer. Raking the yard into crunchy piles, again and again. Apples falling off the tree. Football games on Friday nights. Getting dark at five oâ€™clock. The pungent glow of the kerosene heater. Mmmruh!
Autumn back home sparks my imagination, soaks me with a sense of longing . . . just like it did back when I lived there . . . mmmruh. I was a kid growing up in a small town on the side of a mountain in Pennsylvania – I wanted to be anywhere else. Clueless as I was, though, I still slipped under autumnâ€™s spell. That sense of . . . incandescence – boundlessness – the feeling bubbling down deep and sparkling up to my skin that something wonderful is on its way! Maybe the scoundrel who sits in front of me in chemistry secretly likes me back, even though Iâ€™m not size two a cheerleader. Maybe Iâ€™ll win the diva part in the play. Maybe weâ€™ll get another dog. Maybe my parentsâ€™ll buy new living room furniture, like the kind they give away on The Price Is Right! Maybe . . . oh, just, maybe something . . . anything! Mmmruh! Autumn back home just always had me on the edge, leaning over the brink, looking out for . . . something!
And the good news is, Iâ€™m still looking. Thereâ€™s still so much out there. I want so much out of life â€“ a house, a book contract, a TV show as good as Veronica Mars, Season One. The scent of autumn reminds me that itâ€™s all still out there, holding back, waiting for me to give chase. Mmmruh!
But you know what? Fall, especially fall back home, reminds me of something else, too. Something that is all too easy to forget when Iâ€™m trapped in a cloud of smog as I race around trying to keep up with myself. In the fall, I remember my teenage dreams, and I realize that some of those dreams have come true. I have cats and a dog all my very own. And a helluva guy who loves me for the me-ness of me even though Iâ€™m not a size two cheerleader. Mmmruh! I hardly ever have to get up early. Plus, I buy my own clothes now, so I like what Iâ€™m wearing almost every single day. Mmmruh! I really like all my friends, and Iâ€™m pretty sure they like me, too, since they are, after all, patient enough to explain football to me and field my questions during a game, and not just cuz we ended up in the same clique and now canâ€™t get out â€˜til graduation. Mmmruh! I donâ€™t live with my parents anymore so I can have sex in my own bed as much as I want. Mmmruh!
But you know whatâ€™s the best thing about moving away? I can always go back home. Mmmruh!
Geralyn Ruaneâ€™s favorite Hardy Boy is whichever one Parker Stevenson played, and these days she writes romance, chick lit and womenâ€™s fiction. Last year her short story â€œJane Austen Meets the New York Giantsâ€ was published in the New York Times Bestselling anthology The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2.