Friday, February 1, 2013

Winter Essay

Winter came, and it's almost gone. The weather's definitely looking up - people have started wearing short sleeves already! Way back in December of last year, there was a Winter writing competition thing, about what comes to mind when you think "winter", and so I decided to enter. The deadline was December 31, and I heard about it towards the end of November. I guess that should be enough time, but the first three weeks of December were 1st semester finals, so I didn't get time to write. The last week of December, I started to write the essay, and then just kind of forgot about it, it being vacation and all. February 6th, the first day back to school from vacation,  I remembered. And so that first rough draft would never ever be seen by anybody. And I worked, I was going to enter a competition with it. And because I just can't stand seeing hard work go down the drain...well, be forgotten and buried under cyber-dust, to be accurate, here it is, to be read and enjoyed, and then buried under mounds of new posts.

Hot chocolate and marshmallows and fuzzy socks and Christmas lights. Snowballs and sledding and skating and wet gloves. Frosted window panes and fluffy white snow and pointy crystal icicles. Laughter and hugs and presents and kisses. All wrapped in shiny paper and adorned with a large bow.

I saw her for the first time on the Internet. I can’t be sure it was her, because they all look alike to me, but I’m positive it was the same old lady with the grimy nails and dirty teeth and gnarled fingers and ratty clothes. She was on one of those adds on the email sidebar, the ad that asks you to donate just a little and tells you how just a little can help.  I don’t let those kind of things get to me. It’s just like the ads for Hyundai and life insurance. Just like the ads for orphans in Haiti with their large pleading eyes and their rib bones sticking out from everywhere.

Each one of us lives in their own little bubble of denial, wearing smiling masks, laughing so much our cheeks and stomachs and sides constantly ache. But we live with those aches because they mask a greater horror. Our eyes are shut from laughter, and we know that anything can pop that bubble. So we close out eyes and pretend. We pretend that the bright yellow smiling masks we wear are real, and push every other thought away, because they threaten to knock off our frail masks and pop our bubbles. We bury the harsh reality, as far down as we can, and pretend and pretend and pretend until we can pretend no more.

Snow is spectacular. It’s blindingly brilliant, dazzling and gleaming where the sun reflects. It makes the world look magical, calm, and serene. It covers everything else, cleans up the mess in the world by throwing everything into the closet and closing it, even though the doors bulge. Then the snow starts to turn to slush, the dirty sludgy stuff pushed to the side of the road by fast passing cars. And after only a few days and several cars, the closet doors can no longer stay shut, and open to let everything tumble out.

It was in the slush time of winter that I actually saw her. She looked bleak and miserable and desolate. She was holding one of those thick cardboard cups, the kind meant for coffee walking between the cars stuck in downtown Boston traffic, tapping on car windows and extending her cup for donations. She had on mud-encrusted black rain boots and an oversized coat. And I, in my tailored trench coat and ankle boots and manicured nails, carrying the same cup, but filled with freshly brewed coffee. And I felt bad. I felt horrible for having so much and giving so little, of not thinking outside my own little life, when so many unfortunate people, here in my own city, were so less privileged.

That winter, I played Robin Hood. Minus the stealing part, of course.  

And then I stopped and now I'm not sure how to continue. (Writing the essay, not playing Robin Hood).