I’ve been arguing with Melville over the last few days. I dislike his allegations against November.
He calls November damp and drizzly. It rained here yesterday, so I suppose it is, a little. But my November is warmth and vibrancy: deep brown and golds on the ground, pugnacious orange and red hanging off the trees and rumbling in the fireplace. And if it is the month when everything is falling and storming, it’s still the month when things are also flying and laughing, made of breezes that like to kick things up.
He says that November can invade the soul, and he will start to feel grim about the mouth. I just keep smiling.
He says when it invades, he finds himself involuntarily pausing in front of coffin houses and falling in behind every funeral procession he meets. He says it takes a strong moral principle to keep from going out into the street and beginning to methodically knock people’s hats off their heads.
Mr. Melville, I have a hard time not knocking people’s hats off in November, too. It just seems like such good sport.
I’ve been arguing with a lot of writers actually, who like to paint such pretty and false pictures of November as a time of dying. November is my favorite month of the year, you see, and I’ll fight you for it.
I was born in this month, in a deep midnight, but there was nothing dark about it. The day I was born, the Berlin Wall was officially torn down. I’ll turn twenty-five tomorrow and somewhere, on another continent, hundreds and thousands of people will celebrate with me.
And November gives me such nice birthday presents: discount Halloween candy and pumpkin pies. Excuses to wear socks that feel like walking on cotton clouds and to cuddle into too-big, too-loved sweaters. A holiday that doesn’t require me to stress about gift-buying, but still drags my travel-happy little family back together. A writing challenge to write 50,000 words in thirty days, which combines my two favorite things in the world: competition and the magic transition of thought to word. A final promise that I will not have to deal with a too-hot world for five months, which means a final promise that the weather won’t make me cranky for five months. The tease of snow, which rarely becomes anything real, but the anticipation knows how to hold me in all the best ways.
This November gave me a visit from a friend I haven’t seen in ten months. And then a surprise visit from another. This November gave me actual hope that I’ll complete my 50,000 words for the first time in four years. This November gave me proof that I’m not all grown up yet, because I can still spill hot chocolate on myself in public. But I am almost twenty-five, so I handled it with class and just didn’t care. This November gave me a shiny badge that says my favorite author personally approves of my sass.
November isn’t about dying.
No matter how dark the nights, or cold the days, or sharply the wind cuts through November, it’s never about dying.
November is for the bold. It’s for a world willing to forget about blue and green and purple in the faith that they can find it again later. It’s for those who will burn up what they have in orange and red, until they have stripped themselves almost into blacks and whites.
November is for losing what covers us, and allowing ourselves to look at our bones, the set in stone things that we are, instead of what we build around ourselves.
November is for faith, for understanding that we are not the things that we have accumulated, built, borrowed, stolen, or created. We’re the thing underneath, which will build, borrow, steal and create again.
I was born in this month, and I will fight you for it.