Autumn is my favorite season. The color of the trees make for perfect backdrops to cute couple photos where we wrap each other up in our flannel sweaters. With hot coffee in my mitted hand I looked up at you as we approach my parents’ house. For the entirety of the 5 hour car ride, you kept having to reassure me that everything will be okay.
“They’ll learn to love me, just like you learned to put up with me. I promise not to bring up politics and I’ll try to stomach the food they feed me, even though you know I hate vegetables.”
I knock on the burgundy door and my dog came bolting for us. She jumped and barked until I saw my parents round the corner with smiles covering their faces.
“They’ll learn to love me.”
This is how I expected my Thanksgiving to go when I first asked him if he was ready to meet my parents. This is how I expected Thanksgiving to go before my panic attack hit last week.
He’s always said that I’m flighty and neither of us ever fully understood why. I’d look at the other relationships I had and never questioned their stability like I constantly questioned his and mine. My girlfriends and I have been peas in a pod since our freshman year and my mother and I are practically a scene out of Gilmore Girls. Even my professors and I seemed to have a decently stable working relationship going. So what was it about my boyfriend and I that seemed to have me always running away?
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I began to feel anxious every time I saw him. I was almost nervous to open my mouth out of fear of what would come stumbling out. I started to use how tired I was as an excuse in the middle of the afternoon as a reason why I wasn’t chatty. First we stopped having sex, then we stopped seeing each other, until finally we lost communication all together. The static in the background of our phone calls began to speak louder than either of our voices ever could.
The end was nearing, I just couldn’t figure out why. Everything was so seamless at the beginning of the relationship. What went wrong and why didn’t the relationship feel right anymore?
A week before Thanksgiving, I found myself curled up on my bed crying and shaking until one of my roommates found me, and the words just began to spill out. With him being older than me, he was already planning the next chapter of his life, of our life. He was looking forward to buying a house, having kids, moving away, and starting his “adult life.” He was ready to grow up and I was still enjoying being a young university student who spends her Tuesday nights having dollar beers. I wasn’t ready to be a wife when I still hadn’t become the woman I wanted to be!
So with him sitting across from me in the apartment, I choked out what I could of the speech I had rehearsed in my head a million times.
“You’re an amazing man, you’re the man who has treated me better than any other human in my life. But I’m just not ready to be in the chapter of life that you’re in right now.”
Autumn has always been my favorite season. The color on the trees changing from green to red symbolizes a transition. It’s a sign from nature that it’s okay to change, fall, and be reborn again. With each leaf changing at its own pace, they reflect an ombré of greens to reds. The tree will still stand tall and strong while it’s bare during the winter before it grows new beautiful leaves in the spring. It blossoms every year on the same foundation.
I have no doubt in my mind that he will get his house and children and the life he’s planned, just as I will do the same. I just needed to realize that it’s okay for me not to be ready like he is, and that my leaves will change color on their own time.
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