All The Steam Of The Snow.


The Michigan winter held an unshakable  grip over me. Tense, like brittle bones held across a fleshy throat with an alarming amount of strength, sending me into fits of seasonal depression too jarring to shake off. It’d been that way my whole life – The chalk of the salted snow leaving it’s imprint on my shoes, clothes, and disposition. I keep my turmoil hidden away most of the year and I do a good job but come December? It’s noticeable. And it lasts until spring, sometimes spreading it’s ill in the vapor between seasons, poisoning the air with it’s spoils. The derelict buildings of Detroit and the superficial pretense of it’s suburbs only show their imperfections in the snow flurries at dusk and my routine of walking around aimlessly until the thoughts of my head expelled themselves in a tangible way was interrupted – I wasn’t happy here. Not anymore. Not that I ever was.

I packed up and I moved, from the suburbs to Ann Arbor, and suddenly, there was a shift. So unlike the initial shift I felt when I first moved back to Michigan, which was the shift of malcontent to a begrudging love to the state who’s grip I cannot shake no matter how hard I try, how far I run. This shift, instead, was sudden: All it took was for me to place a booted foot onto the white dusted pavement that lead away from my house, my house, mine, and suddenly, like a princess in a stone tower, first feeling a kiss from a man she’s never laid eyes on but loves anyhow, I was alive.

The shift was visible in the Christmas light twinkle of the small city skyline. Tangible in the embrace of friends I no longer had to drive to visit, only to return home to my self-imposed quarantine of boredom, drugs, and thoughts more morbid than I let myself confess to friends or lovers. It was audible in the sigh I breathed, contented, my cheeks flush red with the frozen air reminding me that all my friends, they said there’s warmer days ahead.

One month backwards in time, a girl stood in front of warehouse apartments on Woodward. She shivered and shook and kicked at the snow as the flurries blurred her vision, stung her eyes until she cried messy mascara streaks down her cheeks and she would’ve thought “Oh god, I’m meeting new people, I shouldn’t look like I’ve been crying” but she just couldn’t manage to care. Instead, she blinked and sneered, her round, European face contorting into what she hoped was malcontent, but what was really just a Cabbage Patch kid frown. She hated her surroundings even though she loved her city but she hated the sight of it, tonight, it was like a funeral. A boy answered the door and she went inside but it didn’t make a difference. Despite the spike in temperature, she was still cold.

Tonight, she was frozen. A thirty minute walk from her doorstep, past the arboretum, past the campus and the 7-11 and the bookstore, to Liberty Street had left her legs shaking and, she later found out, frostnipped to a bright red hue. But she didn’t care. When she saw the streets of her city alive in gusts of white and blurs of black, she saw her life and it was beautiful.

For the first time,  I didn’t see a snowfall marred with memories and unpleasantness and the overwhelming desire to barricade myself inside. Instead, I understood the mentality of a screenwriter who would have his leading man first meet the girl that would save him on a blizzard-tinged street corner.

It all made sense.


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