Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Polar Vortex.

Look, no one needs you to tell them that it was a long winter. This was some Laura Ingalls Wilder style insanity. One for the record books, an absolute fucking horror show of emotional turmoil and spiritual reckoning and depression-addled blanket burrowing. No, no one needs to hear that from you. They've already heard it. They covered it daily on the public radio news that is your only accepted current events source. "How can it still be so cold?" they asked, dumbly, bewilderedly, each morning, as you brewed scalding hot strong coffee and toasted toast and died, over and over, dreading those first steps outdoors. Everyone knows that part already. They lived it too.

The winter started before the cold, though, and you rang out the old having your last real conversation with the one you'd first talked to nearly exactly a year earlier. It's horribly easy to end things over the phone, you thought to yourself. Horribly easy. Your best friend insisted on picking you up on New Year's Eve, benevolently helping you avoid the terrible Bridget Jones cliche of the suddenly single gal home alone, Joni Mitchell on the stereo. You were thankful for the charity. You enjoyed that perfect, surreal, lawless moment that arose whenever anyone was in transition, that brief point at which anything was possible, when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

The deep freeze began the next day, it seemed. A sudden plunge, frozen cheeks and frozen pipes and that looming feeling that nothing would ever be right again. You rode out your days and hid out each night. You found a silver lining in the fact that a polar vortex is a hermit's dream. You inherited your brother's old record player and a TON of your parents' old records and declared this to be the winter of smooth 70s rock, a perfect follow-up to last year's mixtape 90s binge.

"We don't listen to enough Fleetwood Mac anymore," you told your best friend one night as she nodded vigorously in agreement. One afternoon you plucked a Steely Dan CD back from the weeding pile at the library and checked it out and told yourself you were doing the best thing you'd done in months. You tried not to look back in anger.

You didn't have much choice but to look for things to be hopeful for.

They weren't hard to find, not really. Some of them came on slow. Some of them came back from the past, unsurprising given your penchant for nostalgia. Some of them brought presents and were never really heard from again. Some came to visit and made you feel electric and goofy as a schoolgirl, holding mittened hands and wandering in the art gallery. Suddenly some were around a lot. You found yourself picking up raspberries at the grocery store so there'd be something in the fridge for breakfast. There were more teacups around the house than usual, more books askew, misplaced objects, the cozy clutter of a lived-in space, a warm warren in a frigid world. It could be a good thing, you realized, this shared space.

One night someone who was around more often than not those days helped you dismantle your shitty old Ikea bed frame one last time, a job you'd done over and over and over again in towns across the province, a job every man in your life seems to have been a part of, from your boyfriends to your dad to your brother's college roommate.

Afterwards you cooked him dinner. "Division of labour," you joked.

"It tastes like more," he told you.

"Help yourself," you replied, and he did.

Helping yourself. That's how you got through it. Those long cold nights seemed interminable, but you got through them. You found what you needed. It didn't look like what you thought it would, but nothing ever did. That much you'd finally learned.