As a senior in college, I took a class on Jane Austen—a great class with, it must be said, a weird vibe. Almost all of the students were women (out of around a hundred people, only five or ten were men), and it was a hothouse of Jane Austen obsession. In the first lecture, the professor identified herself as a Janeite—a member of “the curious American cult of Jane Austen,” according to the BBC—and, when she asked if we were Janeites, too, scores of people raised their hands.
If anything, the fervor of the Janeites puts into relief a fact almost too obvious to notice: the world of books is a romantic world. Romance structures literary life, and to be a reader is, often, to follow its choreography, from susceptibility and discovery (“I just saw it there in the bookstore!”) to infatuation, intimacy, identification, and obsession. We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional; to say that you merely admire or respect a book is, on some level, to insult it. Feelings are so fundamental to literary life that it can be hard to imagine a way of relating to literature that doesn’t involve loving it. Without all those emotions, what would reading be?
If none of this works, leave New York. Just do it! You’ll be fine. If you do leave New York be prepared to miss it more than you can imagine right now. Maybe you will move someplace else and love it. Maybe it will be exactly what you wanted and needed in order to feel strong, centered and fulfilled. Or maybe it won’t be, or maybe it will be but only temporarily. If you decide you don’t love the other place, or if you fall out of love with it, or if circumstances change such that it becomes practical to move back, then you can move back.
New York will not be the same as it was when you left, but it will be here, and if you want to you can learn to love it again.
MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.
“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”
Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”
“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.
Till Roenneberg, a professor at the Institute for Medical Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich, is a chronobiologist – which means that he specializes in the study of how biological rhythms affect our physiology and behavior. Over the course of his career, he has gathered statistics on people from 166 countries.
The human organism follows the cycle of the seasons: growth, hormones, blood pressure, cutaneous perfusion, the immune system, sleep and body temperature all adjust accordingly.
During the autumn, when leaves change color and drift to the ground we are reminded unequivocally of the passing of all things. Add wind and rain into the equation, and it may all add up to depression.
Roenneberg has observed that the further a country is from the equator, the more its residents notice the seasons. “We live in a society that strives to be happy all the time,” says the Munich scientist. “We don’t understand the power of cyclicality.” People are, after all, part of nature – a perpetually flowing system of growth and decay. So the emotions we experience during each separate season all have their important role to play.
The best remedy for autumn depression is love. Strolls amid fall foliage are so romantic — and the season ushers in a deeper quality of love than the summer flirt: when it’s stormy and rainy, we seek to create more warmth on the inside.