The month of April during my sophomore year of college was dubbed by my roommate, “The Month of Doom.” In those few weeks, several major relationships within the Harvard Band came crashing down, and she noted that a similar string of breakups had occurred in April of our freshman year, too. Snuggled comfortably in the warmth of her new relationship, she simply shrugged and noted that there “must be something in the air.” Since one of those relationships that had so recently disintegrated was mine, and since the observation was essentially her only response to my devastation, I didn’t appreciate the sentiment all that much. Looking back, though, she was completely right.
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. – T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”
April is many things – including National Poetry Month – but at its heart it is a month of transition and change; it is a month when things end, and other things begin. Historically, it has seen the start of the American Revolution, the first shots of the American Civil War, the first Olympics in over1500 years, and the first space shuttle mission. It has seen endings such as the last shots of the Civil War, the official end to slavery (with the Civil Rights Bill of 1866), the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the spiritual end to apartheid with the election of Nelson Mandela. As for transition, it has brought us several events that have literally shaken us to the core, including the explosion aboard Apollo 13, the sinking of the Titanic, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. April is also the birth and death month of one William Shakespeare.
Oh, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April Day;
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away. – William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona
Is it any wonder that so many relationships burst forth and die in this tumultuous spring month? That April back in sophomore year saw the end of my relationship with my first love. But the April before it had brought our first date: a romantic walk on a perfect spring night, a pause on a bridge spanning the Charles River, a lunar eclipse and a fumbling first kiss.
The April winds are magical,
And thrill out tuneful frames;
The garden walks are passional,
To bachelors and dames – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “April”
It was April again a couple of years later when I ventured to England to visit my star-crossed soul mate. We spent a week wandering through gardens, exploring museums, getting lost on beaches and in woods, and sharing long nights of conversation in cramped single beds. He met his wife the day after I left, and our relationship was really never close again, but I wouldn’t give up that week for all the happiness in the world. To me, at the time, it was all the happiness in the world.
April comes in like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. – Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Spring”
A few Aprils after that, I entered my first (and so far only) boyfriend cohabitation. Sure, part of the reason I agreed to the scenario was because I *knew* I would never marry him in the long run (that made it safe, you see, because I was too young to be heading down that road), but that doesn’t mean we weren’t excited and a little giddy at the idea of playing house for the first time. That, and saving major bank on the shared rent.
April is a promise that May is bound to keep. – Hal Borland (New York Times editorialist)
Then again, our giddiness at living together also didn’t stop him from deciding only two months later to pack it in and move back to the other side of the country. It took him a full year to leave, but I came away with the rent-controlled apartment. Totally worth it.
Laugh thy girlish laughter,
Then, the moment after,
Weep thy girlish tears. – Sir William Watson, “April”
Nowadays, the month of April brings the Coachella music festival, which for me will forever be associated with saying goodbye to my second great love. One April, around the time Gnarls Barkley was a more familiar name than CeeLo Green, I realized I was in love with him and he realized he wasn’t with me. He went off to the desert swearing we would always be friends, and as far as our friendship is concerned, he never came back.
The sun was warm, but the wind was chill,
You know how it is with an April day – Robert Frost, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”
More recently, in an April only a couple of years ago, I had finally defrosted my heart and opened it again. I started the month by seeing my last serious boyfriend off on his three-week European adventure (an assignment for work). We vowed to Skype every couple of days; he took me on video tours of his London neighborhood; I tucked a few romantic notes into his luggage to be discovered over time (a practice that had become our custom). But through it all, I could tell that he was growing distant, the solo trip rekindling his wanderlust and loner spirit. The omens of that April fulfilled their promise when he returned in May. We were all over by the end of June.
Sweet April showers
Do bring May flowers – Thomas Tusser, “500 Points of Good Husbandry”
The important thing to remember is that endings are also the prologues to beginnings. The sad spring showers DO feed the growing flowers, and every one of my tumultuous Aprils have carried me forward to some other new adventure. I have no idea what this April will bring; I would rather it be the start of something than the end – unless it is the end of something bad. We have already had two pretty big earthquakes in March, so I really hope it isn’t another one of those. But no matter what, I hope that I will dive in with abandon, as I have so many Aprils in the past. Because in the end…
…the first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. – Mark Twain
I will always be an April fool.