This morning when I stepped out of the apartment, I smelled fall. It was the same smell when I was in Tehran and my mother walked me to school. It was a particular smell, somewhat sad because you knew that winter would arrive soon, and then there was the silence of those early mornings, a certain deadness surrounding the air. The hardest part was when my mother let my hand go, and I joined the rest of the girls in terribly dark uniforms in the school's backyard. I always wanted to be a grown up even then because I couldn't bare the childhood fears, the inability to escape school grounds, the inability to express emotions and feelings in any way. I didn't yet know that growing up had its own loneliness.
On my walk to the subway this morning, I called my mother and told her about the smell. She immediately said, "the smell of fall." I told her my new decisions, and she said whatever I decide is for the best. A sense of relief came over me, for I realized that even now as I stood alone, and no longer a child going to school, my mother's words still made it all better. As if she had never left, as if we were still there on those empty streets, as if nothing had changed. And yet I knew that we had both changed, and that we were much better now, much more experienced, much more free.
I wished her a good day and walked down the steps underground to the subway, my lungs heavy with the smell of fall.