I woke to the sound of voices. And a bright light filling the room. The chatter of birds. Lots of birds.
I swam up out of my delirium and grabbed my phone. 7:10 a.m. I never sleep this late, I thought. And the voices –
Aha. The windows were open. Joggers were passing by. The birds paused for half a second, then started in again, chirping and twittering, louder this time.
And me? I felt strangely alive.
What was happening?
For one thing, the weather had turned chilly. The temperature had settled into the low 50s overnight.
For another, I had gotten eight hours of sleep, an almost unheard-of event.
I sat up in bed and stretched my limbs. Nothing hurt. (“It’s a miracle!” I wanted to shout to my husband but had just enough thoughtfulness not to. He’s not a morning person.)
I went through my morning routine at double-speed, feeling an electric charge jangling my nervous system. My plans for a productive day increased with every passing minute. I’ll write! I’ll clean the house! I’ll plan dinners for the next month!
All because I got proper sleep and the weather turned colder. This perfect storm was enough to kick-start my annual autumn awakening.
People like me – those who whine about humidity and act like summer is a gross imposition – sometimes have moments of reckless energy in the early days of September. We’re the opposite of animals who hibernate all winter. One glance at my step tracker tells me I’m least active during July and August.
But then, September.
Every fall, I have a day like this and I almost don’t believe how good I feel. There’s no logical reason for it. Nothing substantial in my life has changed.
My worries are the same: our kids; our Russian roulette, self-employed lifestyle (Will I have any work this month? What if one of us gets sick?) The ramped-up unrest and negativity in the wider world. And this year, the virus. The virus, the virus, the virus.
But yet, today was different.
The sun emerged, a gentle breeze blew and the air carried the faint scent of ripe apples (though no apples grow in our yard, I swear I sifted it out). I wanted to be outside – an urge I never feel in August.
Somewhere in our neighborhood a contractor turned on a classic rock station. It’s blasting out Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” right now, and I’m not even rolling my eyes cynically.
There’s no room for cynicism on an afternoon like this.
You forget these days exist. You forget it’s possible to feel lighthearted, and optimistic, and joyful for merely being alive. It seems, in the moment, like foreshadowing, a hint that things are bound to get better. That troubles will fade, our little lives will go on, and we’ll have more and more moments that feel like hope.
And possibly, another good night’s sleep.
Charlotte Latvala is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.