I like summer in theory. I am always grateful when it’s not so cold and snowy anymore, but I quickly remember why I don’t like summer. Even years before I knew why, I knew that it made me sick. I spend a lot of it barricaded inside, with the relative safety of my air conditioner, but even my short trips outside cause trouble. I have had to be driven to work most days this summer and often took a cab or arranged a ride home. On days when I took the train, there was always the risk that I would throw up. Heat is so hard on my body. When I arrive home, I am sweaty and flushed and nauseous. It’s not my best look.
The weather in Boston has been cooler than usual for mid-August. Instead of blistering heat and high humidity, it has been high 70’s and breezy with clear skies. It is like an early September, a gift to those of us who can’t handle the heat. I have walked 3-4 miles outside each day this week. Today, for the first time since April, I took the train both to and from work, then took Astoria for a long walk. I sat outside as the sunlight waned and it was cool and blissful.
Fall is easily my favorite season. I like the symbolism of leaves changing colors and trees growing bare. I like watching horror movies every night in October. I like picking apples and going on hay rides. I like haunted houses. I like the coolness that creeps back into the air. I like wearing sweaters and boots. I like the smell. There is no smell quite like New England in the fall.
Every year, when I wake up on September 1, I am relieved that I made it through the summer. I often have fun during the summer, but I am always uncomfortable and exhausted. I have to expend my energy carefully, lest I push myself too far and need weeks to recover. In the fall, I take long, long walks, walk through the crowds of tourists in Salem, figure out a Halloween costume and drink my weight in Pumpkin Spice Lattes. (Which I don’t react to – more proof that autumn is the universe’s gift to me!)
People with mast cell disease are so often at the mercy of the elements, wind and water and sunlight. But when summer winds down, I get these months of feeling good, of not being exhausted, of not flushing. This is the one rule my disease has always observed – it gets to be unpredictable in every other way but this one. Fall is mine.
Maybe having mast cell disease sucks, but fall arrived in Boston two weeks early, and for me, that’s pretty damn great.