Today is the day that ought to have been my birthday, by all rights. Today is the first day of fall. More importantly, to my young self, today is Frodo and Bilbo Baggin’s collective birthday. Do you have any idea how much it would’ve mattered to me to be the SAME as those two notable halflings in such an important event? I used to try to work out with the time zones and Zaire (my place of birth) whether I had REALLY been born on the 22nd and this incontrovertible FACT was masked by my impossibly-distant place of birth. Or maybe bad record keeping. Or SOMETHING.
Of course now, thinking about it, I’m pretty sure my mom wouldn’t have minded. I was three weeks later than expected. My due date was Labor Day. I used to think this just meant my mom was bad at counting, until I myself went a verifiable two weeks late with Grey. Sorry about that, mom.
Frodo, Fall and I all twine together for a brief period this time of year. If you’re unfamiliar with the Lord of the Rings, this birthday on September 22nd is a critical milestone throughout the books. It’s during a grand birthday that Bilbo disappears in a puff of smoke from Hobbiton. Years later, on that birthday, Frodo grabs his walking stick and three best friends and heads off on desperate, epic quests that make dragons look like child’s play.
Um, it’s possible that these books were just a TOUCH influential on my growing self, ok?
But this time of year brings out the itching in my feet, too. My drive in apparently got the memo about it being the first day of fall. The low places – the mist-covered swamps by the sides of the freeway – have already put out their scarlet and vermilion banners, in anticipation of hordes of tourists coming to admire. The trees are heavy with their fruits. Apples and pears weigh heavily on pregnant limbs, hoping for eventual homes in pies and pastries. The boundaries of my mind get less definite, and I’m mindful of Bilbo’s warning: the road in front of your door connects to all other places in the world. Who knows, by stepping on it, where you will end up?
I admit to inflicting Tolkien on my son at the youngest possible opportunity. His fourth birthday is still eagerly anticipated, but already you can hear him sing, if you listen carefully:
The greatest adventure is what lies ahead
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said
The chances the changes are all yours to make
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.
The greatest adventure is there if you are bold
Let go of the moment that life makes you hold
To measure the meaning can make you delay
It’s time you stop thinking and wasting the day.