Red Leaves

The detritus of fall camps in piles around my doorway, odd conglomerations of leaves not yet crumbled, blown, or swept away. Haphazardly lovely, they will give way all too soon to snow piles and the fog of my breath crystalizing before my face.

I love this season, these leaves, all the bright and muted variations of color on the trees I pass on my drive home each day. My son and I remark on the trees with half turned leaves, reds and oranges a riotous splash of color against the blue sky.

Somewhere I once read that the chlorophyll that gives the leaves their green hue in the summer is merely a mask hiding the leaves’ true coloring. I do not know if this is true, but I’d like to believe it, that I am now seeing the true leaves, the leaves after they have given up their pretense of being something other than what they are, which is not green, and yet still so beautiful.

My move to this home, with its newly learned leaves and newly loved trees, is recent. One thing I was reminded of is that when you move, you are forced to handle each object you own during the unpacking process, to hold each item in your hands. A certain amount of weighing the value of your stuff is inevitable in this process. What of your old self do you want to retain?

Amongst the boxes of photo albums and thrift store knickknacks was a box of old journals from my junior high years. Paging through them, I met a 13 year old deeply offended when a friend doubted her word, a girl who spent more time observing other people than they were probably aware of. Even when she understood their motivations, she couldn’t make herself be like them. She felt, like I imagine most 13 year old girls to feel, alien, foreign in her awkward body with her awkward thoughts.

According to the Myers Briggs scale, I am an INTJ, a rare personality type, but for women, even rarer, comprising just 0.8% of the population. Based on this, my desire for people to be as they are comes as no surprise. According to a website, INTJs find white lies and small talk hard, many social conventions, seen as falsehoods, are equally distasteful. We can’t understand the need for them, which makes participating in them hard.

The website reads that because of this people often find us hard to know or unapproachable. But it is a mistake to believe that INTJs don’t feel, that we are cold and uncaring. We feel, and feel deeply. But we don’t always know how to make sense of the mess we feel, deeply distrust letting that be our guiding force. So when I read the words of that 13 year old girl,  I don’t know whether to believe her an idiot or to believe she knew something I have unlearned in the intervening years. Look at her there, spilling her heart out all over those pages, spilling her heart all out over those people she came in contact with, spilling out, like those leaves.

The sky this morning, a gray swirl of clouds like sea foam dissipating, is cold, the wind brisk. It kicks up a pile of leaves by the doorway, a small colorful cascade scuttling along the concrete, almost dancing. They move so freely, almost graceful, almost elegant, as if flying, all those beautiful red leaves, moving through sky, along the ground, heading everywhere.

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