Give us a smile, January.

She was young and stupid, like young people ought to be. She met him at a New Year's party and they both drank too much, like young people ought to, and at midnight she kissed him. Of course she told her friends that it's just what you do at the new year, but in truth she never had before and this year, she told herself, it would be different.

That January started out beautifully, like Januaries often do, and it snowed all the time and the ground was always sparkling like someone had scattered it with crushed diamond. This is how winters go, of course, and what started out as magical and beautiful soon simply became a crushing and monotonous cold, and even as February approached the spring seemed years away.

But it came, and with the flowers she'd mostly forgotten her brief glittering winter fling, and with the years there were other boys and other girls and much, much later she told everyone that she only remembered the good times. It's like the winter in that way: you can always remember how beautiful the snow is, but never how painful the cold is, how depressing the dark is.

And years went by and one year she found herself sitting with an old friend long after the party ended, and talking about youth and folly, and wondering if talking about having once been young and stupid meant that she was no longer young nor stupid--if she no longer drank too much because it was fun and instead drank too much because it made living more bearable for a while, did that mean she was wiser as well as older, or was it just a different kind of folly?

It had been another January full of hopes that ended up lost in the dark and the cold, and this time, she said, she was certain the winter would never end. Maybe she'd hoped for a little bit of springtime out of the conversation. But as she said it, something changed. She found in herself the resolve to face the winter alone, without the aid of all the false hopes and disappointments she'd come to rely upon.

It was a long, cold, dark walk home, but between the alcohol and her newfound resolve, she didn't mind so much.

No comments: