Thing #5 – October

I sit on the left, she sits on the right. We have an unspoken agreement about which side of the backseat we sit on. Even after decades, Sissy and I sit in these informally assigned spots. Whether it’s a cab or our family car, it would feel wrong if we didn’t.

Most of the time you don’t realize all the ways you revert to your childhood self when you’re in your family environment. I think we’d be surprised (or horrified) to learn all the ways we do. The backseat assignment is a mild example of this.

Now that I’m a Missourian, I don’t make it back to my childhood home as often as I once did, but I make it a point to return every fall. October is already the best month of the year, and it’s amplified by being along the northernmost edge of the Badger State. I feel bad for people who have to share their autumnal activities with flannel-clad hordes who’ve piled into their QX80s in hopes of capturing the most Instagrammable apple-picking pictures.

Fall in Wisconsin means having my own private leaf-peep zone and a homemade pie with apples directly from the tree in the yard. And instead of contending with people, I’m up against a couple bumbling porcupines and high-alert deer out the front door. What I’m saying is…I’m lucky.

The October sanctuary is made even better when trying new fall activities with your family. Dad suggested we try a corn maze in the area. Since none of us had done a corn maze before, and we all love to make Dad happy, we decided to check it out. We hopped into the car (assigned seats obv), and ventured deep into classic Wisconsin farmland.

Looking out the window from the backseat, it could have been 2018 or 1992. The view was equally familiar. Not only in the rolling pastures and old farm houses, but the internal landscapes. Staring out the window, I thought about the girl I was back then. The girl who imagined the woman she’d become. The girl who wished she had a fast-forward button to see how scenarios resolved themselves. Where would life take me next? Was I doing the right things?

There I was, officially fast-forwarded in time. I was asking myself the same questions, and thinking about the woman I’d continue to become. I’ve always dreamed of bigger things. My lack of contentment is at the same time my greatest enemy and my most potent fuel.

After arriving to our destination, we took a hayride to the mouth of the maze. We made collaborative decisions about which paths to take, dodged mud puddles and, in true fashion, laughed a lot.

My sister joked how our adventure would become material for my next blog… “A corn maze is like life…” she said, jabbing at my writing style in a little-sister way. Joke’s on you, sissy. I’ve learned a few things since those early days of staring out the backseat window…a corn maze IS like life.

You can’t see what’s ahead, you’re gonna get your shoes dirty and take wrong turns. Sometimes you take a path only to return right where you started. And you’ll encounter people along the way who think they’re funny. They’re not. You’ll be forced to politely fake-laugh when all you want to do is escape and drink hot chocolate. But also, any disappointing dead-ends and cold winds are made more tolerable because you have your family with you as you continue to discover the woman you’ll become.

2 thoughts on “Thing #5 – October

  1. Hi Jenna…….I’m doing Christmas cards so remembered something your Mom emailed me which you sent her which I thought was so beautifully done and I didn’t know how to respond. Horrified that I had lost it, I hurridly searched for anything from jnwash, and their it was, whew!! Pure talent!!!

Leave a Reply