Sunday, November 2, 2014 / 1:54 PM

Dear autumn,

Today was the my first holiday drink from Starbucks of the season--secretly, one of my favorite moments of the year. I had stayed uptown all day yesterday in the local coffee shops and hadn't noticed anything seasonal besides the rain, but today I passed the Starbucks on 28th and 3rd on my way to brunch and noticed something different: a flash of red. The holiday cups had arrived!

I normally shrug off the announcements of pumpkin spice lattes to save my enthusiasm for this day. When I was in college, Andrea, Natalie, and I would meet each other at the campus Starbucks the morning the holiday cups appeared for a traditional toast to our favorite holiday (and in anticipation of the end of the quarter and the start of winter break). There's always been something about peppermint and ice skating penguins that changes the air, that changes me, and I'm glad for it because this year has felt like an especially long one. And I'm ready for the conclusion of this chapter and the start of the next.

It's funny how quickly the excitement of new things can wear off. Is it a sign that something's wrong with me? Because I can't remember the last time I was truly, incredibly, unabashedly happy. Perhaps it's just the knowledge that a long winter lies ahead; perhaps, something else.

The losses of the year have outweighed the gains in a frustrating way, and I find myself wondering more and more if I'm doing everything I can to really live. There's a magnetic Thoreau quote on my desk lamp that reminds me daily to "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined," and above it is a fortune from a cookie that came with take-out that I opened more than two years ago as an intern, the night when Amanda and I were stuck in the newsroom late because nearly everyone on the team was out sick: "All your hard work will soon pay off." 

I guess, autumn, what I'm really wondering: is it all worth it? The big city, the pursuit of a big career, the idea that big dreams are attainable if only you let yourself want them badly enough. There's nothing to stop me from giving it all up, but there's nothing to point me in another direction once it's all gone.

I suppose I still have a little while to figure that all out.

Xx, traci.

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