A partner in crime
My real partner in crime to not live 2000 miles away
The new Josh Ritter album finished and in my hands
A debt free life
A duty free day
My ass to stop hurting two days after a long run
More time to choreograph
Free airline tickets
Sparkly nail polish
…And that’s just for today
The first January I spent in Minnesota was over January term at Macalester. Most everyone I knew was gone, and I was taking an Intro to Filmmaking class that met every day in the morning, but required very little homework aside from the film itself. I spent a lot of time alone and the record lows we were experiencing facilitated this.
It was hard to make myself leave my room - I was shy, I was lonely, it was so cold the hairs in your nostrils would freeze, and I had shrunk into that wintery internalization that occurs when the outside feels like an enemy and you can’t think of a good reason to fight it.
My social life was pretty limited and the one distinct memory I have of going out for entertainment was going to see “Schindler’s List” at the mall with a friend and her odd new boyfriend. I started to cry almost immediately, weeping through the whole film, touched and aching and also coming back to my room with this crystalline clarity of emotion. I couldn’t stop crying, but I felt almost high from it, like everything good and bad in the world made sense for a little while.
I still get that feeling sometimes, although not as often. Generally, it’s at a point when I feel vulnerable, isolated, but sometimes it’s just being overwhelmed by something I’m taking in: words and music and film. Two winters ago, I nearly crashed my car because I was stuck in the word interplay and delicate construction of Anders Monson’s “Other Electricities.” I got my first glimpse of that feeling reading Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale.” And songs hit me like that on a regular basis.
A friend of mine, a musician, who takes what he listens to pretty seriously gives me a hard time about my taste - singer/songwriters, devotees of Dylan and Springsteen, boys with poetry in their words and undoubtedly no comb in their pockets, carefully cultivated emotional and a driving twangy guitar. Boys who write songs about pretty girls and nuclear winter and trains. “You like them because you’re a girl,” is generally the response I get, although it’s said - I think - with affection. And that may be true, but what I know is that with those boys, when I hear certain songs, I get that same feel of perfectly clear heartbreak, the kind that feels like love and feels like it’s worth it.
The first time I heard “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” I knew exactly where the feelings that song generated were going to lead me. I’ve judged every other song I’ve heard since with that standard.
That feeling is the clarity of winter when you can see the honed edge of the cold, when you’re all alone in the world, and are reminded of everything around you that isolates you and brings you together at the same time.
We got snowed in that December, just for a day. Shari and I were both sick, and nothing in that house worked, but the outside was clear and cold and our dirt-packed driveway was impossible to navigate. We each had a chair that we’d gotten for $5 or less and old blankets and afghans because we were the kind of girls that brought homemade, ratty blankets to college with us.
We tucked into the chairs and hoped and prayed that the heat would keep working and watched all three Star Wars movies while Michael brought us Summit Blackberry Porter and hot tea.
I hated the snow for trapping me in my own failures, my own lack of preparations. For making me cold and miserable and messy, highlighting all the things I was bad at like getting up early and thinking ahead and paying attention to what would happen in the future. But I loved that it would give me those occasional days of utter quiet and defiant laziness. The rain doesn’t offer the same peace here. It creates pressure in my head, riles up my emotional crazy, makes me feel like its a Blade Runner universe.
It isn’t that I want it to snow, but I do want a day of that kind of peace - quiet and Star Wars and beer mid-afternoon and the people I love most in the chairs next to me.