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The Short Lived Wonder of Autumn in Evanston

October 25, 2010

I find it so strange that the same city — the city of Evanston — can not only be the most beautiful place to live but also the most terrifyingly depressing place to live — depending on the season.

Now that I’m a sophomore in college, I have a year of life in Evanston under my belt, and a year’s experience in this place has taught me some things. Lemme share with you some of these things:

NU's campus in the Fall. Yeah, that's real.

# 1. When the weather is above 60º Fahrenheit, GO OUTSIDE. Days like that do NOT — I repeat — DO NOT come around EVER, and when they do they are a gift from God himself. If you don’t go outside and enjoy it when you can, you will become even MORE depressed come winter time. And believe me, in the winter, no one needs to be more depressed. It’s just absolutely unnecessary.

# 2. You’d be hard-pressed to find a place more gorgeous than Evanston during the Fall. I seen some pretty places in my time, I’ll tell ya. But when the sun is shining through the red, yellow and orange leaves creating a heaven of auburn shades above your head, it becomes pretty clear that there ain’t many places prettier than Evanston, Illinois. I’m actually writing this blog post while sitting on a bench looking out across Deering Meadow. I’m currently trying to grapple with two conflicting emotions: 1) The overwhelming sense of awe and joy rushing through me as I look at the baffling beauty of my surroundings and 2) the creeping sense of disappointment  that comes from knowing that I’ve only got a few more weeks of this, tops. In the back of my mind, I know that when Winter rolls around, I’ll be dropped off in Shitty City, population: me … and everyone else that lives in the surrounding area.

# 3. People say that each season lasts around three months. Summer is June, July and August, Fall is September, October, November, Winter is December, January, February, and Spring is

It may not look too shitty here, but believe me, I've been to the mountain top -- and it's a shit hole.

March April and May. And we all know this because we all attended pre-school (or have just walked outside at least once in our lives). But, for Evanstonians, this whole three month idea is a shit ton of bullshit, and anyone whose lived a year in the Midwest knows what’s up. Last time I checked, over here, things turn to shit in December and don’t see the light until June. In Evanston, Winter is a 6-month long plague, and only the strong make it out alive. Sure, some can make it through unscathed — but most of us have battle scars. Some of us make it out 15 pounds heavier, five shades whiter and ten times more depressed, but hell, we make it. We may not look the same, and we may not feel the same. But we recover. You know why? Because ….

# 4. Spring time in Evanston is probably the closest I’ll ever get to heaven … ever. NU students await the springtime like evangelical christians await the second coming of the messiah. With Spring comes the sun, and with the sun comes hope and that hope is what brings us students who have been squatting in our dorms for six months out of those caves we call “Residence Halls” and out into the world which is suddenly showered with light. It’s amazing what sunlight can do to a person. It’s almost as if the amount of sunshine present is directly proportional to the general happiness of a population. It was in the Spring of last year that I remembered there was a world outside of my secluded dorm room. It’s easy to forget. In the Winter, you’re bundled up and looking down, hurrying to your next class. But come Spring, you’re in a constant state of wonder because — everything’s different. Everything’s … beautiful! Suddenly, you’re walking to your next class and you get side-tracked because, hey! You decided to look up. And you’re not in a hurry. Why hurry? During the Spring, the walk to class becomes the destination, not the class itself.

# 5. Northwestern’s beauty is veeeery deceptive. It always tricks us, but it is because of it’s wiles that we keep coming back. For instance, right when we get to campus at the beginning of the year, the weather lures us in with visions of perfection. The temperature is divine, the sights are splendid and morale is high. We get here and think, “My, this place is great — I don’t know what all those people back home were talking about. Miserable weather, my foot!” And then it hits us. And it keeps coming. And coming. And no amount of lamentations or prayers can save us. Months and months we must suffer the biting cold, the paralyzing wind and the general, campus-wide demoralization. And right when we’re about the leave campus with an acrid taste in our mouths, right when we’re about to throw in the towel and agree with all the nay-sayers, on an innocent day in May, the sun comes out. And it’s almost as if the sunshowers wash our memories clean of the horrors of Winter quarter, leaving a blank slate to make new memories beneath the sun and the blue sky. But we only get around three weeks of that iridescent joy and then we must leave. But we leave wanting to come back — remembering school with the fondness of the Spring, paying no heed to the looming Winter. I guess you could say Evanston’s weather is like an abusive boyfriend. It treats us bad, but the moment it shows any signs of change, we come right back to it with open arms. We need to make ourselves a support group of some kind. Anyone with me?

Now that I’ve learned all these things about the Evanston weather and kind of disillusioned myself, I must ask: is the beauty and joy that comes along with September and October, and the different yet equal beauty and joy that May and June bring worth the unparalleled sense of loss, confusion and depression of the Winter?

That, I think, may be a question without an answer …

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2010 1:15 pm

    The fleeting beauty of spring and fall in Evanston is enough to make one endure the hellish winter. But summer in Evanston is the icing on the cake. The greenery, the beaches, the breeze off the lake (most days, though there can be some stifling, stagnant nights in August and September) are a joy.

  2. Gus permalink
    December 7, 2010 1:07 pm

    I remember Evanston’s short but magnificent autumn extremely well. Gone too soon, alas…

    Thanks for the blog!

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