February 2, 2011

Maybe It's Me: So Much Snow, or, The Crying Spanish Boy Not The Daffodil

I have never been one of those people beaten down by winter. Despite the shortened days, the dangerously harsh weather and the frigid temperatures I’ve always been able to keep my wits about me. After all, I’m the one who actively chooses to live in a state where at the best of times winter lasts three months; at the worst of times up to six months.

But, for the first time in the many winters I’ve lived through, I’ve finally been bested by one. When I think it can’t get colder or snow more, it does. When I think the driving conditions can’t get more hazardous, they do. When I think the days might be getting longer, they don’t.

Maybe it’s me, but the older I get the less charming and more depressing I find being “snowed-in” is. I don’t want to go outside and play. I don’t revel in having a day off. All I can see – all I can feel - is a cumbersome blanket of hopelessness smothering a usually vibrant world.

And that’s what snow is becoming to me. Nothing but a symbol of suffocation, of being trapped, of inescapable exhaustion. Life is already filled with moments of defeat and loss, we don’t need a season to represent that, do we?

There’s so much snow.

I can’t remember what the ground looks like.

We’ve had rough winters much like this one in the past where there was more snow than there was room to put it. Higher and higher the banks rose, blocking out the sky, becoming a constant, gloomy reminder of just how long we were to be deprived of the ground beneath it and the sun behind the mountains of snow that would bring it back to life.

Thankfully, both times this happened in recent memory I was living far, far away. I heard only of the morbidly depressing weather – the 100+ inches of snow on the ground – via letters and phone calls from home. First I was in Ireland, where, while it rained every day, I was enchanted by the rolling hills in brilliant shade of green I had never seen before dotted seemingly everywhere with daffodils.

Three years later, I would be in England where I wasted away my days writing, drinking, and living carefree in a mansion in the countryside; that year, they would have one of their nicest, sunniest “winters” in history.

Another three years later, the snow mounting higher and higher, and I have nowhere to escape to.

Even between those times of flight I was distracted enough by love – first in the form of snowboarding, later by boys – to prevent me from feeling the despondence other’s feel during winter months.

But I haven’t snowboarded in years.

I simply can’t bring myself to. Every year that passes it seems like the cold creeps deeper and deeper into my bones. Regardless of how many layers of clothing I’m wearing, I can feel the cold settling underneath my ribcage, wrapping icy tendrils around my spinal cord, seeping into my eyes and ears and nose.

And my days of romance keeping me warm when the environment doesn’t, seems to be on hold. Perhaps I’ve exhausted my allotted allowance of good love stories for the time being. Perhaps it’s just that the overabundance of snow is preventing me from travelling across the not-so-great distance to a lover I can curl up next to and lose myself in the white wash of the world outside.

Although, I did have a winter romance some time ago where he believed he and the elements were on the same page. That he had a symbiotic relationship with winter. I should’ve known it wasn’t going to work out – I come to life in autumn months. When the world is at its most colorful, when the senses are overwhelmed and delighted, when the weather is fickle, when everyone seems full of life because of the summer they just had and the holidays they’re about to have.

Looking back, I wonder how could have loved a boy that loved winter.

When there is no color.

There is no life. Not in people, not in nature.

There is an absence of sound.

There is even an absence of space.

It’s like the entire world is muted.

Stuck inside, with nowhere to go, with no way to release all this (fading) energy, I’ve been spending too much time reflecting on winter’s passed – on my travels abroad, on the high I felt speeding down a mountain, on the boy’s I would come to let go as soon as the snow melted.

And there is this very specific moment that keeps playing in my head. In Ireland. I was there as an au pair working with a single mother who had relocated her son and herself from southern Spain to Ireland. He and I were walking to school one day, and suddenly – out of completely nowhere – it began snowing. And while I joyously tilted my head back and let the fluffy, cold flakes hit my face (it was the first winter I had experienced sans snow or cold), the Spanish boy began crying hysterically. He had never seen snow before, and it not only confused him, but simply made him sad.

And I never understood this.

Until now.

I am wilting this winter. I am not the daffodil against rolling hills of emerald green I have been these past many years. I am the crying, confused Spanish boy. My freckles look sickly, my blue eyes have become a cloudy gray, and my joie de vivre seems to be lost.

But somewhere in the recesses of my heavy soul I am reassured, because I know without a doubt it’ll all come back when the world melts, shedding its oppressive winter coat. It always does.

It always does.

But for now . . .

There’s just so much snow.

And I can’t remember what the ground looks like.