Sunny, Winter Days

It’s February in New York. It’s been a fairly mild winter – much more rain than snow this season – but it’s cold, nonetheless. Jackets keep crawling off hangers and stringing themselves limply around my apartment. Blankets melt into one another and tangle themselves over me as I sleep.
When I wake up on Saturday morning the world has already begun. Sunlight folds into the room through oversized windows and meets my eyes. For just a moment, the same moment I seem to have every morning these days, I remember that last year was not a dream. So I toss off the blankets, place grief neatly in the back of my throat, and start my day.
My apartment is small but there’s a wall of glass windows and a door leading out to a patio I love. I make coffee and pour it into a ceramic mug I bought in Paris last month. It’s a small thing but a little dose of happy goes well with caffeine.
Siri tells me it is warm today. I slide open the patio door to find that its true. It doesn’t feel like February. It barely feels like winter at all. So I throw on a sweatshirt and take my coffee black and outside – watching the sun spear through leafless branches, listening to city streets abuzz with warm winter celebrants.
We get maybe one of these each year. A day when the calendar seems confused and all our winter woes feel suddenly far away.
It’s a gift, an unearned respite. A reminder of the season that came before and the one waiting on the other side. A break from winter and its many motifs – death, darkness, (in my case, depression).
There’s so much grey in a New York winter. So many days when the sky seems to suffocate the city beneath it. It’s all heads down, hands in pockets, winds so cold your lungs strain to keep up as you race your way to the subway, desperate just to get below ground.
But a sunny winter day is none of that. It’s taking the long way to work. It’s walking through the park and remembering what it feels like to squint. It’s looking up, looking around, breathing deeply, nodding at strangers on the sidewalk as you collectively celebrate this stolen day.
Sitting on my patio I think of this and the metaphor falls open easily. I am in winter. And I want to be in spring. Some days I want to go back and be in fall. Either way, I just don’t want to be here. It’s cold and grey and suffocating. My head is down, my hands are in my pockets. My lungs are straining for something – air maybe, something new, something less piercing in my chest.
And I’ve been so desperate to get past it I keep missing sunny moments. So angry at the cold that I don’t feel the warmth at all.
So on Saturday I sat and sipped. I closed my eyes against the sunshine and pulled my legs into my chest to break the wind. And I cried over winter because it is hard and it is sad. And then I cried over the sun because it is grace and it is a gift and it has met me in the middle of my darkness.
I know this season is not over. I know there is still so much to be grieved and man, will I. But I know, too, that there will be moments of sunshine within it if my eyes are open to see them. So for now, for today at least, I’m looking up, I’m looking around. I’m breathing deeply as I feel the warmth against my skin and declare that He who promised is faithful.

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