Today was one of my favorite kind of days.
Snow is falling, gently drifting to the ground like a curtain of white flakes. There is a light breeze, not quite constant but steady enough that the snow seems to drift in only one direction. It is cold, but the thermometer proclaims it is just above freezing in the same breath that the wind declares it is just below it. There is no sun, but it is still bright out despite the thick haze of falling snowflakes as every bit of light is reflected by every surface. This is a wet snow, after all, hanging at the precipice of melting while the sun is hidden behind the clouds, so it blankets everything.
I know this is true because every time I blink, a white line of crusted flakes enters my vision, obscures it, and then leaves my vision. My glasses prove it true as well as the snow manages to cling to even the sheer surface of my freshly cleaned lenses. I know I must be a sight to behold to the cars crawling past, a figure blanketed in clinging white as my knitted cap, sweatshirt, and pants provide ample surface for the snow to cling to. My heavy jacket, opened in the front because it is not yet that cold, proves to be the only surface resistant to the snow’s lingering touch. Even my skin is susceptible, what parts of it are uncovered, but the snow melts quickly in the face of my body heat so the evidence is hidden.
I watch the cars as those inside them watch me, each of us regarding the other with some degree of skepticism though our worlds are wholly parallel in this moment. They chart a course through grey, slush-filled roads as I mark a path through a white, untouched sidewalk. My world is pristine for most of my journey for few have ventured out today. It is a week between two holidays and those whose circumstances allow them to stay inside seem to be doing so, while those whose circumstances have forced them to leave are busy with whatever brought them out. Shopping, errands, work. All keep them in worlds parallel to my own. Normally, I do not expect to find myself alone or the first to mark the sidewalks with my feet, but today it seems like no other outcome was possible. Today it feels like I truly have the world of sidewalks and soft crunching snow to myself.
I know this is not the case as the few places where my world intersects with other worlds have proven. Bus stops are a cluster of footprints and logic dictates that the snow has merely hid the evidence of people passing through this world prior to my entry. Driveways and crosswalks show signs of passage, people’s paths through this world merely being tangential to my own, not nonexistent. Still, though, it is easy to believe myself truly alone in the silent crunch of the snow beneath my feet and the weighty stillness of a world disappearing beneath a steady, heavy snow.
This is a walk I have taken many times over the past year. The first were in snow like this, desperate bids to escape the confines of my apartment. Attempts to catch enough sunlight to remember a world before days that feel like they’ve ended before they had a chance to truly begin. But I feel like that world was a pale imitation of this one. Today’s walk isn’t a desperate escape, but a delighted embrace. I wanted nothing more than to walk through this gentle downpour. I know the difference is the warm apartment I have waiting for me at the end of this walk. I know that it is because my walk ends at “Home” rather than merely the place I left. But still the path I mark with my feet feels like a world apart from the beginning of last year.
When I get home, I shed my many layers. Most of them go to the dryer, their dampness a problem I wish to solve quickly, but my coat hangs in its usual place. It is chill to the touch, but not damp. Somehow impervious to the wet clinging snow, I examine it as I adjust to the warmth of my apartment. Snowmelt drips from my beard and eyebrows, but this coat remains untouched. Eventually, I turn away, seeking the immediate warmth of my blankets and space heater now that my home doesn’t feel as warm to my cold body as it did immediately upon removing my layers.
It is a struggle to stave off sleep as I lay here, my mind idly thinking about coats, imperviousness, and the lingering emotions of a year that somehow hasn’t ended despite starting a lifetime ago. I am not tired in a way that demands sleep, but I am content. I am cozy. My bird cheeps softly at me, an admonition for disturbing her rest on this quiet, snowy day, and I talk to her about nothing until she stops responding and I let myself drift in sheer contentment.