personal: once the thermometer starts to drop

WINTER-MISERY

I’m in Toronto again, this time it’s mid-November and I’ve spent the majority of the past 2 weeks indoors since arriving on that rainy All Hallow’s Eve. It’s around this time of the year that the sky darkens at about 4pm and the winds whip you harder and harder each time you open the door. I’ve lived in the desert for 4 years and have not witnessed the transition between seasons since I left the city in December 2010. I’m remembering now how everything changes once the thermometer starts to drop.

One winter, around February 2008, I remember there was a snow storm and we locked ourselves inside and dimmed the lights while talking to each other in the dark. Around the same time, from my bedroom in the attic, I recall crouching low below my windowsill to peak into the lives of the couple fighting on the street. I remember being single and involuntarily listening to my roommates have sex with their boyfriends. I tried to wrap my pillow around my head but the walls were thin in that Ossington Victorian-era duplex, and the whole house would shake in unison with their moans. Around that time I wrote a winding short story about  the sky, the colour grey, and its many different shades, far before E.L James took that honour away from me.

In June, I found a boyfriend who liked holding barbecues in his backyard. Afterwards, his family, his best friends and I would clap for his band while they played Oasis covers in the basement. In July, I went to Las Vegas and wore a neon yellow bikini. After a few drinks with my girlfriends, we took pictures I hope don’t resurface in the future. In August, I went to New York City and posed for photos with human-sized replicas of the Statue of Liberty and frolicked among acres of preened gardens at my aunt’s home in upstate NY.

When September hit, I started analyzing the way the subway train came to a sudden halt and people poured in and out mechanically, each taking their positions as the train started, and I would stand about shoulder-level to men who’d eaten poppy seed bagels doused in garlic and herb cream cheese for breakfast. I broke up with the summer boyfriend a few days before his birthday that month. I started reading Sylvia Plath’s diaries and dog-ear’ing the pages I liked the most. I sat at cafes by myself and tore out the notes I was writing to myself, tucking them into the hidden folds of my notebook so no one would see them. I began avoiding my friends. It was cold that day in October, around my birthday, when I walked down the street with the zipper of my jacket all the way down after joining my friends for one drink and leaving early because my face hurt from smiling. I went to my doctor to find out why I felt cold all the time, even when the heat was high. We ran blood tests and I was deemed healthy. In November, I wondered why that guy who was so into me before was not being consistent, and I wrote angry poems about him.

I dress warm for Canadian winters. I have several pairs of stockings in dark brown, pink and just good old sheer black. Layers are the most fun a girl can have in winter. Cardigans, camisoles and t-shirts over long sleeves work well together. I have two pairs of warm boots that I gave careful consideration before investing in, and which look good with most outfits. In the night I curl up under thick down-filled duvets.

So no, I don’t hate winter. It isn’t all snow, sleet, black ice and frostbite. It’s not just longer days and shorter nights, and I don’t mind driving 10km/hr on small slopes in case I need to brake in time for oncoming traffic. The changing of seasons is like a switch, for me. When I see trees shed their leaves, I say goodbye to colour. Because for me, winter is more than just something that happens outside. Everything changes. And I can’t say I mind, really.

fall-to-winter

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