Brown County, Winter 2013
Here’s the puzzle piece that won’t fit today: I love winter. I love grey, industrial-esque, exhaust-hanging-in-the-air kind of days. I love snow falling on dirty snow, as if to say, “Screw you humanity, you’re not in charge here”. I love the grit it takes to survive an Indiana winter. Factories went away. Pensions went away. Tucking ourselves safely into a middle class lifestyle and riding the wave to retirement went away. But we’re still here. Along with the snow, and eternal cold. So screw you Mother Nature. I’ve got a full-length coat, and I’m not afraid to wear it. ALL THE TIME.
But today, after maneuvering my 50-mile round-trip school commute through the falling snow, and realizing the sun won’t be making an appearance until April, I returned to my dark house, and fell asleep on my couch, still wearing my coat. I don’t mean to say “screw you winter”, as much as I mean to say, “screw you THIS winter”.
The grieving in my Universe is palpable, and while it’s not occurring in my home, it’s all around me. Cancers that won’t remit and friends gripping the wheel of hope. More than one. More than 3, if I were feeling math-y, which I am not. My heart jumps every time I hear my cell phone ping. I have close friends out of work, with solid leads floating away into the wind. It’s like good news just won’t stick in this cold. I got a call from a family member on Sunday with a question no one wants to hear, “Lori, what can you tell me about tuberous sclerosis?” Oh my God, please say something else. I was so at the end of my comfort rope, I probably said all of the wrong things. Sometimes I just…say the wrong things.
Last night, facing each other knee-to-knee, Greg and I admitted it was time to let go of our hope regarding a piece of land upon which we wanted to build a home. We had been planning a little home-building adventure, which would have meant the rest of our days would be spent on 3 acres in the woods, looking over a beautiful lake, very close to school and work. It was a dream so yummy, you could taste it. We knew it was a long-shot, but after 8 years of sitting still and caring for Sara, we had allowed ourselves to dream. We talked about camp-outs and ice skating. We talked about trees and solitude. We talked about getting off the highway. We talked about how much better Sara is feeling. Her largest medical challenges are finally turning the corner, and for the first time in…forever? She’s not in any pain or discomfort. We finally took a breath, and started dreaming about a relatively normal family life…just regular stuff that so many people take for granted. Letting go of that woods and lake feels…like such a loss; of something we never had…but still. At 5:15 this morning we were awake, talking, too bummed to even mention it.
I do love winter. It reminds us to sit still. To be quiet. That things just appear to be in hibernation, but underneath the brown permalayer, everything is very much alive. I love seeing the world in suspended animation, as if I’m living in the final still shot of a classic movie. I love wearing mismatched layers of sweaters and scarves, as they are such a lovely break from our ridiculously over-stylized culture. Plus, I’m a writer. I’m supposed to sit around wearing sweaters on top of sweaters, reheating my coffee, cursing at the air, and swearing that I’m moving to the woods to be alone so I can THINK!
I have no words of wisdom today, my friends. Some days are meant to be merely survived. But I can leave you with a soundtrack, in case you are tired of hearing The Dream Academy’s “Life In A Northern Town” on repeat. What? Just me? Wim Merten’s “Partes Extra Partes” is the perfect soundtrack for this winter. This cold, grey, hope-sucking winter. And if you decide to eat an entire pie for dinner tonight, I won’t tell anyone. I’m not that kind of girlfriend.
Whatever this winter is bringing you, I wish you Godspeed, my friends. As always, Godspeed.