The autumn spiral

2022-11-25 12:35:00 By : Ms. Nancy Ning

One hundred and thirty-two years of editorial freedom

The blistering air chills my bedroom windows, leaving frost marks around the edges. The broken window frame, refurbished no later than the ‘70s, has a large crack allowing cold air to gush into my room. It mixes with the heat blasting from my space heater, transforming the room into a humid mess. My posters consisting of my latest random band and movie obsessions, stuck crooked on the wall with old blue putty that I reused from my last apartment and my dorm before that, peel off of the brick walls, hanging on by one  or two corners. The papers on my desk lay scattered half on the floor, all untouched. Clothes hung half on hangers, half on the floor, lamps that haven’t been turned on in over a week, mugs with days-old water collecting on my side table. And in the middle of it all sits my warm cozy bed with silky sheets sliding off onto the carpet and an untucked rough comforter that I convinced myself I love because I spent way too much on it just because of the cute lace trim. It lays ready for me and ready for the next couple months. Without me, it feels empty and craves me almost as much as I crave it. It calls for me, when I’m at work and when I’m at class. So when I finally go to it, how can I leave when it so desperately begs for me? Where when I finally lay onto it, I sink in, too far to float back up. Where the sheets tangle around my feet, anchoring me down and my pillows create a pit that spirals down far past where I can see. So what’s the appeal to leaving, to climbing out of the spiral? Class? The wind-chilled air? The gloom in the sky?  Diy Pom Pom Garland

The autumn spiral

And so I fall into the pit, staring up at my patchy painted ceiling, at my friends reaching their hand down to me, and I close my eyes. Because in my mind, if I can’t see them, they can’t see me. I will be left alone with nothing but the warmth and comfort from both my heater and the deepness of the pit I’m in, slowly closing around me. And as it closes, it wraps around me like rope tying me to a chair. And as it gets harder and harder to breathe from the rope getting tighter and tighter, I oddly feel comforted. Like I am a child again coming home from school and the ropes are my mother’s arms hugging me lovingly and warmly as I crumble into her lap after a long day. 

For most of the day, I don’t want to leave my spiral. I want to lay in this cozy cocoon made of silk that I so easily spun, in the giant hole in the frozen ground that I burrowed into, in the branched nest high in the trees that I nidified. But then I hit these dark moments. Realizations that I’m wasting time, rotting in bed, missing out. Shame that I’m failing classes that my parents spent their life working to pay for. Guilt that I’m abandoning my friends and my family, leaving them in the dark without an explanation to what’s happening, turning my phone into seven unread “goodnight I love you” heart emoji texts, five missed calls and three “are you eating? R u ok?” opened messages just from my mother. But my phone is on my side table, charging for the past few days, so I can’t reach it to respond from so far down in my pit. Where my headphones interrupt my numbing yet soothing playlist to let me know she texted again, yet I’m too weak to climb out and look at what she said. Where I know that if I keep ignoring them, she will stop, frustrated that I ignore her. And in these moments, I want to pull myself out and resist the weight of my duvet holding me down. I want to go outside to feel the first big snowflakes of the season pressing onto my cheek and my thick giant mittens. I want to slowly walk across the sidewalk with my friends as we laugh and try not to slip from the ice. I want to go to class and actually pay attention, enough to pass my classes. I want to start reading my overdue library books and crocheting my horrible designs again. I want to meet new people and make the dumb small talk that I usually try to avoid. I want to sit in front of the fireplace in that weird room on North Campus that I’ve recently started to enjoy. But I just can’t. I can’t climb out of the spiral, rip open the cocoon, come out from underground, climb down the big tree and start my day no matter how hard I try. I can only lay and imagine what it would be like if I could. If I could dissipate this black cloud floating above, run away and lose my dark shadow that won’t stop trailing, lift the bar of sorrow pressing on my shoulders. I can only imagine how freeing and relieving this would be, and how I could finally think of the future without immediately being hit with the bundle of stress tied up and thrown at me. I can only imagine a day where I wake up without a heavy heart filled with unwarranted sorrow. Where I can get up and get ready to meet my friends without thinking of every possible fake excuse to get out of it. Where I can pay attention to my surroundings without being lost in my thoughts, ignoring my responsibilities and the people around me. A day with a blaring sunshine that warms my skin the second I leave the shadows, enough to take my coat off.

This isn’t something new, waking up one day glued to my bed. And this isn’t something unexpected, where I panic from being stuck. It is something I knew was going to happen months in advance, so confidently that I even counted the days before I expected it to strike like the timer on a bomb, but with an explosion filled with tears and hopelessness. But when November hit, I felt nothing different. I got out of bed and made it to class every day, spent time with friends, bundled up before heading outside. And with this, I felt relief, as if the last few years were a fluke, and I really was fine. I thought the last two years must have been exceptional circumstances: the first year I couldn’t get out of bed must have been because of the isolation I felt from COVID-19, and the second year was because it was the first time I was out of the house and things were so different. But this relief slowly dried out into defeat. Because on that chilly Saturday night, as I got home, hung up my scarf and my jacket and put away my mittens, I knew. The apartment was darker. It was colder and quieter. Much too quiet to be a normal night, where I couldn’t hear the line to the nearby bars that normally passes my windows, or the ancient heater making crackling noises, or the buzzing of the fridge, or the voice of my roommate. Instead, I could hear my bed calling me upstairs, whispering in my ear to come quick. I knew what this meant. I knew what would happen if I got in bed. But tired from a long day and a long year of forcing myself to be okay after my last autumn spiral, I chose to lay. To just give myself a tiny taste, only laying on top of the covers. If I don’t go under, I won’t get stuck. There will be nothing on top of me to weigh me down. But the taste was too warm, too addicting, too comforting. So I slip one leg under. Just one leg. Heat rushes through my leg. So I slip the other one under, and I pull the folded covers to cover the rest of me. My body sinks comfortably. It fades — into the sheets, into the mattress and finally, into that bottomless pit. So here’s to another autumn spiral. 

MiC Columnist Roshni Mohan can be reached at romohan@umich.edu.

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The autumn spiral

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