An ode to pumpkin spice

It just so happens in this mundane, flavorless world that we all seek to find a sense of individuality. All of humankind reaches for something that will make them relevant, just so that they can believe that for one flickering moment in the timeline of stars being born and dying, they matter.

Even those who cling to the shadows long for a sign that they, trees in the great forest of life, would make a sound if they fell. We want to love what we love without feeling like everybody else loves it, not just for the sake of loving but for the sake of uniqueness.

Well, too bad. Pumpkin spice is back, and no one is safe.

Trust me, my friends, I tried to outrun this sweet and spicy fate. For years, I resisted the siren song of the pumpkin spice latte, as hordes of people around me crashed through the doors of Starbucks in their quest for the holy grail. I told myself things like, “It can’t possibly be that good. It must be overrated. I don’t want to try it on principle. It’s probably too sweet anyway.” For a time, I persisted… until a fateful fall day last year.

The air was chilly, the ground was tinged with mist, the leaves were crisp and my mom had bought a PSL for an occasion I cannot recall. The things I do vividly recall are the initial disdain when she told me what kind of drink it was, then the curiosity that became too much to bear and the steaming sip that provoked me to say, “Wait, that’s actually really good.”

And that moment, I lost my battle with convention. I became a fall girl. Uggs appeared on my feet and a gift card appeared in my hand as I hauled my miserable corpse over to Starbucks time and time again to taste more of the sweet nectar that I could no longer live without. I was left to contend with the burning shame of the knowledge that I, too, am basic.

The realization crashed upon me once more this semester when a couple weeks ago, I got a notification on my phone from the Starbucks app that pumpkin spice is back. After a short struggle, I got in my car and joined the already lengthy drive-thru line. When the intercom asked me what I wanted, I gave my order with the polite but defeated tone of one who lost their duel with destiny. It was incredible, just as I remembered.

Yet, there is freedom in embracing the path that was set for me before I was born. I now understand the call of the PSL, and rather than fighting the inevitable, I accept it. The aesthetic of autumn poured into a paper cup is much too strong to defeat.

To those of you still holding out, I applaud your strength, but know that your stronghold will collapse in the end. Pumpkin spice will find you. I cannot say when or how, but it will, and once you try it, it shall claim you too. In the words of philosopher Linus Van Pelt, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” All rise before our monarch, pumpkin spice nation. There is no escape.

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