I've got friends who live all over the place. Most of them began their lives in Pennsylvania, just like I did, but things like jobs, college and simple wanderlust have caused them to relocate.
They're usually very quick to tell me all the amazing things about their new home bases. It's always hot and sunny in Arizona, and there's like, totally no humidity. Same thing with California, except it's a little bit cooler and there's an ocean right there where you can eat your In-N-Out Burger combo. It hardly ever rains in either place. In New York City, there's always so much to do, and you can walk to an Irish bar where real live Irish men bartend. In our nation's capital, they have a Chinatown that's so trendy it houses an Urban Outfitters, and the president lives there. (I meant in the city, not at Urban Outfitters, though he is the trendiest president of my lifetime, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility that he's picked up a skinny tie or two from that establishment.) In Delaware, you can walk into an Urban Outfitters and purchase the clothing for the exact price on the tag, because there's no sales tax. (I just wrote "Urban Outfitters" three times in less than 100 words, and I'm currently wearing a pair of Vans. Look at this hipster.) In Dallas, there are more than ample opportunities to quietly rip on Toby Keith fanatics. In Minnesota, there are a bunch of lakes, and you can say you live in the state where Gordon Bombay and every original member of the Mighty Ducks youth hockey team got their start. In Charlotte, there are so many good looking girls that if you have a girlfriend from Pennsylvania, you have to fatten yourself up to become unattractive to these women, so your fidelity will not be tested. (My friend who lives in Charlotte told me this is actually what he tells his girlfriend, and I'm pretty certain he wasn't joking.) In Florida, there is Walt Disney World. Also palm trees.
All of these things are splendid in one way or another, and I don't think at this point in my life I would completely object to living in any of those places. I do love Pennsylvania, though, for a number of reasons, and one of the biggest just started today: fall.
You know how people say New York is the city so nice they named it twice? Well fall is the season so nice they named it twice (the other being autumn, of course), and Pennsylvania -- especially the central portion -- is one of the greatest locations in the nation to experience fall. At the risk of seeming even goofier than usual, I'll admit that I can smell fall coming. I'll walk out of my apartment in the morning, and for some reason the scent and the crispness of the air puts me in a slightly giddy mood (giddy being something I'd never be described as except on the release date of a new Brand New album). I don't know particularly why this is, but it could be anything. It makes me want to do something not unlike this.
Maybe it's knowing that I won't have to get completely soaked in perspiration on my way to work for the next few months. Maybe it's because I totally enjoy jumping into a big pile of leaves right after I carve a pumpkin and chug half a gallon of apple cider. It's really nice to be outside during fall, because everything is so aesthetically pleasing. (I initially wrote "pretty" but changed it, because I'm going to reserve that word for use only toward women. I don't want to call a girl pretty someday and have her be one of the two people who actually read this and be like, "Oh, so I look like a leaf?!" You can't be too careful, you know?) Just the other day I went for a run on the Rails to Trails Lower Trail, and was very into the scenery. The leaves were changing colors and already starting to fall on the trail. To be honest, my exercise was less a run, more a frolick. The absence of oppressive humidity and stifling heat combined with the presence of something fun to look at makes it a lot easier for me to get myself out of bed and go running in the first place. Fall helps my vain attempts at making myself something fun to look at. I dream of the day in the near future when, after jumping into a pile of leaves leaves, I also begin beasting push-ups, right in the middle of the pile. (I've used "beasting" as a verb in my last two blogs. I really hope this catches on.)
It could be because I enjoy drinking a nice pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks to while watching college and/or professional football. (I normally only drink black coffee, but they're simply delightful.) Fall is a great time of the year for sports. Football gets into full swing, baseball playoffs take place and hockey and basketball start. Combine that with all of the network television series firing back up, and your DVR/TIVO might actually explode, along with your brain. Tonight I'm recording what will most likely be Miami's college football beat down on Pitt, season premieres of Community and the Office along with episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and -- I'm ashamed to say -- The Jersey Shore. (I live alone and watch a lot of TV, so what?)
Another big part of it might be the holidays. Don't sleep on fall holidays. The two big ones, Halloween and Thanksgiving, are centered on food consumption. How do you hate on that? I still don't really get Halloween, but I love it anyway. (Other things I don't get but still love: David Bowie, anything movie director David Lynch has ever created and pogs.) Everybody has the option of dressing up as something completely ridiculous specifically to get attention from others. It's like being Lady Gaga for a day, essentially, except she pretends she's a fashion icon while most normal people will just admit they've always wanted to dress up like the Girls Gone Wild film crew. After dressing up, you get to eat a ton of free candy that was given to you by people who are oftentimes complete strangers (ever notice how this isn't acceptable any other day of the year?). On Thanksgiving, all you do is eat. That's it. You might reflect on how great it was that the Pilgrims and Indians got along, then you might watch the Charlie Brown reenactment, but then all you do is eat and gey psyched because it's now the time of year when all the soft rock stations play only Christmas music. So it's like you're No. 1 ranked competitive eater Joey Chestnut for a day, and your brother is No. 2 ranked Bob Shoudt. And you're vying for the green bean casserole consumption crown. (My favorite addition to the casserole? Bacon bits. Try it out.) That's seven different kinds of awesome.
One more thing I love about fall is that it's the beginning of cardigan season. I love wearing cardigans, for reasons unknown to even myself. I often make strange sartorial decisions, and my constant donning of cardigans is one of the strangest, outdone only by the period when I was in middle school and wore shirts three sizes too large for me. Well, it used to be, until Daniel Tosh started wearing them all the time and it became socially acceptable. The thing about cardigans is that people really seem to notice them, and can't help but to comment on them, even though I've only heard two variations of cardigan comments (500 times each): "Hey, Mr. Rogers!" and "It's a cardigan, but thanks for noticing!"
Anyway, they're comfortable, stylish and versatile. I highly recommend them. They just feel like fall. (I should write advertising copy for Eddie Bauer.)
I'm not going to say I'll never move away from Pennsylvania. But I am saying that for now I don't need year-round warm weather, rainless months (I love rain, actually), incredible fast food chains, Irish bartenders (it's not so much who the Guiness comes from), Urban Outfitters (though Pennsylvania does have them), affiliation with the Mighty Ducks, a bunch of lakes, Disney World (though that would be nice) or palm trees. For now I'll settle with being landlocked, having brutal winters, paying sales taxes, driving a maximum of 65 miles per hour (legally) and making two trips during my Sunday shopping (one for groceries, the other for wine), just as long as I can keep experiencing fall in all its splendor.
Happy fall, everyone. Enjoy it. Before you know it, winter will be here, and a simple cardigan just won't cut it.