Autumns: 2

Have you ever reflected upon a certain period of your life and thought that it was the time when everything was clicking perfectly? I look at the fall of 2011 and think the stars were aligned. The summer going into that autumn was absolutely great. The streak continued through the fall. Ben was thriving as he started kindergarten, and Michael was enjoying second grade. I only coached Ben's soccer team that fall, but Michael was on an advanced rec team and learned so much -- it was one of the first times his natural athleticism that we take for granted now began to show through. I was getting steady freelance editing work and doing the NFL page for the newspaper on Sundays. Popcorn was in the height of her puppyhood and was so much fun.

Of course, it didn't last.

The first autumn I truly have flashback-type memories of in 1979, when I was in fourth grade. I do remember football on Halloweens from earlier falls, but it wasn't until the end of the decade that the experiences took hold beyond the normal reminiscences and into true moments in which something random triggers a strong memory. That's odd, because I can go take summers back to 1975, winters and spring to 1976. Fall never made an impact until fourth grade.

I've written about this autumn before, but I can't find the post to link. There was a leaf project for school. My great-grandfather who I barely knew died. Mom bought me an Old Farmer's Almanac. The Eagles were on the radio, a lot. The Bears didn't suck and made the playoffs. I experienced my first sleepover at a friend's house.

In fall 2015, Ben is a fourth-grader. Already.

Lori and I had been living for three years in Madison, and we were starting to believe that maybe we would be there for the long haul -- so much so that we were looking at houses. We weren't quite ready to buy, but we probably could have swung it. We didn't have much debt, and at the time, we were loving Madison.

The first house we looked at was the one we fell in love with. It was on Sunset Court, which was four streets that formed a square, all with the same street name. Once we finally figured that out, we found the house and loved it. It was maybe 50 or 60 years old, wooden house, nice upstairs with a room that was too tall to stand in but perfect for a kids' playroom. The block was filled with large trees and had a park in the middle, and the house's yard was big. It was within walking distance of our parish; our kids could have theoretically walked to Catholic school. We knew we shouldn't fall for the first house we see, but everything we saw after it wasn't the same.

A few months later, we financed a second car, not realizing it would reduce the borrowing power we'd have for a house. The $130K houses weren't as appealing as the $175K, so we backed off. Soon, we'd both get antsy about our jobs and realized it was time to go, a decision made easier by the fact we didn't own a house.

Though I wouldn't trade our highway for anything, because it delivered us to the life and family we have now, I wonder how much different life would have been if we took a bold step and bought the house on Sunset Court. We'd likely have two teenagers by now. We would have lived through the small tornado that hit Madison a few years after we left. I would have raked a lot. I can't pinpoint the house on Zillow, but likely, it would be worth around $300K. Not that we would have sold because it would have been our neighborhood. Just like we aren't selling our current house in SLC, because it is our neighborhood and we love it.

Nothing has quite clicked this fall. Vacation was nice but ended too fast. I seem to be always anxious about something. I found out last week that our parish's athletic director goofed up and promised another parent the chance to coach Ben's basketball team. That just seemed to pile on everything else.

I'm sitting on the porch writing this, and it's been unnaturally warm tonight. A windstorm is supposed to blow in and the temps are forecast to drop. It's Nov. 2, yet I haven't needed to rake yet -- our linden still has most of its leaves (which hardly changed colors this fall), and the maple still has about of a quarter of its red leaves. The timetable just isn't making sense.


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