I’ve never spent the very end of August in Oxford. I’ve been either in Boston or Paris, which makes my life sound more glamorous than it probably ever will be. Last year, on a budget and a bad ankle (his, not mine–an untimely football injury), we spent an impoverished weekend in the Latin Quarter counting centimes and drinking bottles of table wine whilst supine in grassy patches. The year before that I spent a tearful hour at Heathrow before parting from a new love, and when I arrived at Logan International my bags were duly unpacked by a brassy lady who opened my Moleskine and wanted to know what all the writing was about, and then she repacked them in a halfhearted manner, and then I spent the night in an empty apartment, and every day after the city got colder and colder.
But today I wake to find that the sun is shining and though it’s still, according to the calendar, summertime, it smells like Autumn outside. I wear a leather jacket and a jumper and for the first time in months the wind as I cycle cuts through the denim of my trousers and I find myself hoping that at the end of my commute will be central heating and a hot cup of coffee. But there is neither, of course, because it is summer, and because I am late and therefore not able to offer myself the luxury of hot fresh coffee. Still, when I cross the road for lunch in the afternoon I find it still smells of Autumn. I want cashmere, and cocoa. When I get home in the evening to find the Man trimming the trees out front, I say hello but what I really want most of all is to crawl under the duvet and not leave for hours. Which is how he finds me when he comes back inside: a lump underneath a dirty suede blanket. He sits beside me and asks me to the pub. But it takes effort, and argument, before I can be persuaded to leave that place. Half of me is in love with the autumnal smell, the smell of decay and wood fires; the other half can’t help but think that there weren’t enough days in Summer and now I’ll have to wait another year to wear my dresses without tights.
Still, I’m on the edge of something. I’m more than three-quarters into a book which is both miraculous and inevitable. Only a few months ago I spoke of September as my unwritten deadline; the time at which all the pieces of my life would fall into place as if by magic. And in a way they have, though nothing really has changed, or happened, since then. If I don’t think too specifically about anything, it all makes sense. And I think I’ll leave it like that–like the in-between season we’re in–for now.