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September 24, 2013

As the pages of the calendar slip away and the end of the year inches closer, I am always hit with a reminiscing spirit.

Fall is my favorite season of the four.  The crisp weather (albeit not found in Miami) has a lot to do with that.  So do Pumpkin Spice lattes.  And college football.

At the end of the day, though, fall holds a special spot in my heart because of the memories etched in my mind that were made in this season.  Memories from a time when life was simple, pure and free.   Memories that for so long, I didn’t think could be beat.

Each year when the calendar pages turn to fall, I get a tinge in my heart.  For some reason, my mind goes into overdrive and memories that are nicely packed away for nine months out of the  year spill out into the forefront of my thoughts.

September brings thoughts of a girl who had just barely turned 18.  She was as pure as pure could be, with the greatest of hopes and the boldest of dreams.  Her desires came from a place of the heart, where all she really wanted to do was be nice to people and help others.  All she was looking for in others was that they were nice to others.  And if you were funny, that was a perk.

She woke up early every Saturday morning with a smile on her face.  She’d get herself up out of bed and happily prance around in front of the mirror primping.  Makeup had to be applied as well as she could at that age.  She’d patiently tie ribbons in her hair after pulling on her carefully pressed cheerleading uniform.

She was living the all-American dream.  Saturday afternoons in the fall are meant to be spent with college football.  And she had a sideline pass.

Her imagination was over-active.  So on the short walk from her dorm to the football field, she would let it wander.  She’d laugh to herself about the antics of the night before.  The fraternity parties and the silly boys.  The games played, the friends made.  She’d raise her hopes for the night ahead.  And most of all, she’d wonder, will life will ever feel like this again?

For four years, Saturday mornings in the fall were my favorite.  They were my favorite, because they were spent doing what I loved.  I was surrounded by my friends.  My parents were in the stands.  I was watching great games unfold before my eyes.  And for two of those years, I had my eyes on someone who captured my heart better than anyone else.

Each Saturday as I made my way to the football stadium, I’d hold my breath waiting for the moment that Scott would take a break from practicing kicking footballs, turn around and look me in the eye.  He’d get this big grin that would take up the bulk of his face and his lanky 6’7″ frame would kind of slunch over.  In his deep but self-conscious voice, he’d mutter, “Hey, Alicia!”  It was enough to make my heart beat harder than it should’ve.  I’d don my coy smile and in a shy voice shout, “Good luck!”  I’d then promptly twirl around, grab my pom-poms and erupt into the biggest smile as I broke into dance for the school song.

It was simple.  It was pure.  It was life.  It was good.

In those moments, I was convinced that life wouldn’t get better.

It’s been ten years since I’ve had one of those moments.

That 19-year-old girl is now 29-years-old.  And single.  And re-entering the world of dating.  In short, I am searching for a spark.  I’m searching for the person who when I turn away, I can’t help but smile.

I was sitting in line at a drive-thru Starbucks yesterday, waiting to order my first Pumpkin Spice latte of the season.  “I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney came on the radio.  I go back to the feel of a 50-yard line…wishing time would stop right in its tracks. 

I went back.  To the night at his fraternity party we spent all night one-upping each other with dance moves.  I was 5’4″ and on crutches.  He was 6’7″ and able-bodied.  He would duck down to dance with me, occasionally picking me up to twirl me around.  He may not have won the dance contest, but he won my heart.

I went back to the night I proudly held his hand as my chatty self worked my way through the party.  He was my loyal companion.  My friends still laugh about how I went up to nearly everyone at that party and said, “This is Scott!”  I have never been so proud to be by someone’s side.

I went back to that July afternoon when I was standing in an aisle.  I remember saying, “What?”  I remember saying, “Are you sure?  Maybe it’s a mistake.”  I remember leaving all of the items in my basket haphazardly in the aisle and rushing to my car.  I don’t remember unlocking it.  I don’t remember getting in.  I do remember sitting at a stop light for far too long and people honking.  I couldn’t stop crying.  Scott was gone.  He had died in a car accident.

For so long, I never thought I could feel for someone the way I felt for Scott.  Sure, there were other people who floated in and out of my life after he left this earth.  But none of them captured my spirit.  They were placeholders.

As I walk away from the first person who had even a remote chance of capturing my heart the way Scott did, I’ve lamented to friends my fear that my heart would never feel the same again. I convinced myself that my heart was preparing for its own personal winter.

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about seasons.  And how each portion of our life’s journey is its own season.  I find winter dreadful.  I do not bear the cold well.  I am not enchanted by snow.  I do not find the mystique in hot cocoa and being bundled up.

Yet, every year, winter comes.  And I maneuver my way through it.  I adapt.  I dress warmer.  I drive slower.  I buy salted caramel hot cocoa at Starbucks.

And before I know it, spring is here.  With newness, life and sunshine.  It brings with it a message of hope and new opportunities.  It is a kind reminder that you have made it through the storm and life can begin again.

I’m at a place right now, where life is beginning again.  My winter is ending, and although the calendar says it’s fall, it is springtime in my life.

There is opportunity.  There is a promise that even though the loves of my past are gone, that new ones will come when the season is right.  Winter isn’t permanent.  It is temporary.

Recognizing the seasons of life has allowed me to enjoy the moment better.  Yes, there are moments when I still long for yesterday.  Even at 29, living in the most beautiful condo in Miami and working a dream job, there are moments where I want to run away and be that 19-year-old dancing around on a sideline.

Time, though–and the passing of seasons–has taught me better.  What I’ve realized, is that it is more important to long for tomorrow.  So today, I hope for the promise of the future and am grateful for a past that has taught me to do so.

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