An August calendar overlayed on top of an image of a greyscale forest
Roshni Mohan/MiC

August is undoubtedly my favorite month. It’s the last full month of summer. And to me, it’s the most meaningful. August is the month of late blooming flowers since my father planted them two weeks later than what was recommended by the gardening videos he used to blast at an unnecessarily loud volume back in May. It’s the month of refilling the bird feeder in the backyard so my father can continue recording slow-mo videos of blue jays and sending them in our family group chat. It’s the month of strictly scheduled weekly picnics under the beating sun to get the most out of our time before school starts again. And as a result, it’s the month of the tannest skin and the frizziest, puffiest hair that I no longer care enough to worry about in the way I did in high school, combing and slicking it down with coconut oil — the only “hair product” my mother would allow me to put in my hair to avoid damage. It’s celebrating my father’s birthday, with my dog eating most of the cake. It’s the ending of a summer fling. It’s goodbye hugs and bittersweet late night drives home after, not knowing when you’ll get to see them next. It’s Pinterest boards and shopping lists filled with a few apartment essentials but mostly a large amount of decorations that don’t get put up until three months into the school year solely because of how much my roommate (the same one from my first and second year) and I put things off. And at the end of August, it’s finally moving into a new temporary home, the place I’ll have some of the best and worst moments through the next year. It’s wasting my money on too many boba runs with my friends, dancing in random houses with people I just met and will never talk to again, making a day out of finding where all my classes are. And the most memorable, it’s walking through the Diag to my first class on the first day of school with an outfit that I thought was cute but ends up making me sweat from the thick material under the blistering sun, all while blasting “August” by Taylor Swift through my knotted earbuds.

“August,” the eighth track on Taylor’s eighth studio album, Folklore, has become my and many others’ go-to fall song. While fall technically starts in September, the end of August feels like the beginning of autumn, disregarding the weather. The school year begins, the back-to-school section at Target now has pumpkins and a couple costumes mixed in, every mannequin now sports the newest trendy sweater or matching sweat set, a couple leaves on every tree are no longer the perfect shade of green, and Starbucks starts advertising and selling their much-awaited fall drinks.

The lyrics of the song and the music behind it contrast with each other, at first. When I put my headphones on, my ears are blasted with the sound of new beginnings. Faster-paced strumming paired with Taylor’s calming vocals along with an overall upbeat coating on the song evokes this cleansing and blooming feeling. The song is a newer sound for Taylor, much different than the rest of the album. Fresh starts in a new place with a new life — either metaphorically with a new mentality or physically in a new city. A main character feeling of wanting to conquer this new place that you now get to call home. A place you have wanted to be for years and put in a lifetime of hard work to get to. It’s the feeling I get while walking through the Diag on the first day of class, and it’s why I listened to it the first time I walked through Ann Arbor after moving in. And because of this feeling, I will listen to it again in three weeks, when I move into my next apartment. I will listen to it on my 20-minute walk to work and back, while thinking about all that happened that day to tell my roommates once I’m home. I will play it on repeat from my phone speaker in my friend’s car (since her aux and Bluetooth no longer work) on the way to her house from the park we just spent the entire day at. I will play it from my CD player when my phone dies until my roommate gets annoyed. Because I want to chase that feeling of freshness, where every worry in my mind slowly melts and pools out of my ears, and the only thing left is the present. No past or future to fixate on — just the right now.

But when I choose to listen, really listen, to every word that comes out of Taylor’s red lips, I am met with words about endings filled with subtle sorrow and mourning. Mourning a relationship that could’ve been. A summer fling and nothing more. “August girl,” filled with false hope and innocence, wished for more, a two-sided relationship that he could never give her. The lyrics are a first realization that the fling is over and will never be more than that. She sings, “’Cause you weren’t mine to lose / You weren’t mine to lose, no.” Here, she realizes the man never reciprocated feelings for her since he had feelings for someone else. He was never “August girl’s” to claim. She can’t even say he was the one that got away because he was never there. It’s filled with self-reflection of how foolish she was to give up everything for him while he gave nothing in return and was emotionally absent to her the entire time, with lyrics like “Cancel plans just in case you’d call.” This is an experience that is likely very familiar to many of Taylor’s fans.

The music layers over the song to turn the realization and sadness-filled lyrics into the last stage of “August girl’s” grieving — acceptance. The “August girl” is accepting that this is just a summer fling. And when she questions, “Will you call when you’re back at school? / I remember thinking I had you,” she reflects on her old, hopeful self, who was in denial of what kind of relationship it really was and finally accepts the truth behind the fling. And in a sense, this acceptance brings new beginnings. A fresh start free from this one-sided fling, where she has healed and can be more than just the “August girl.” Where she can grow and now conquer her new place — her new mentality — a feeling so strong that it transfers over to the listeners through the soothing melody.

And so in 30 years when I randomly hear the song from some throwback playlist in passing while driving home from wherever life takes me, it will send me back. It will send me back to new beginnings. Back to the picnics, the late night drives, the garden videos, the Pinterest boards, the boba runs, the dancing with strangers and, lastly, back to the Diag on my first day of class ready to take on a whole new life.  

MiC Columnist Roshni Mohan can be contacted at