TS Eliot said that April is the cruellest month (click here, if you don’t believe me), but I think he’s wrong. For me, the cruellest month is September. Always has been, always will be.
September is the month when everything changes for the worst. Summer is over, school is back, vacations are a distant memory. You’re never sure what to wear when you leave the house. One day you turn up for work sweating because you put a big coat on, the next day you’re standing shivering at the bus stop wondering why you made do with just a thin sweater.
When I was a kid, I used to have my half-birthday in Septmeber. (I guess I still do – it’s not like my birthday has changed, or anything, but I just don’t celebrate it any more.) My mom would bake me a cake and it’d have icing that said ‘Happy 7 1/2th birthday, Rosie’ on it. And my family would sing, and I’d blow out the candles, and I just hated it. Even when I was little, it felt like such a fake thing to do. It wasn’t really my birthday, so why was everyone pretending? I thought it was stupid when I had to sing the song for my brothers and sister, and I knew it was just as stupid when they were doing it for me. So September’s always been a time when I felt like a fake – the center of attention when I didn’t deserve it.
As I’ve grown older, and the half-birthdays stopped, you’d think I’d give September a break, but I don’t. I love going for walks in the park, but it makes me sad to see all the leaves fall off the trees. Other people clump around the place, jumping on the piles of leaves, kicking them around and having fun. They don’t seem to realize that the leaves are dead. The tree is literally killing the leaves so it can stay alive itself. It’s a struggle for survival, a dog-eat-dog world where the cruelty of Mother Nature is writ large for all to see. How can you feel happy about that? It’s one of the saddest things you can witness, apart I suppose from a lion ripping a gazelle to shreds. But it’s the same kind of thing, if you ask me.
I admit there’s a beauty in the leaves changing color and falling to the ground. And lots of people like it. Hell, there’s a whole industry built around the fall foliage in New England. But I think it’s sad, and just another reason to dislike September. It’s the beginning of the end. Roll on winter, I say.