One of the hardest things about winter is feeling cut off from the world. Not the world of people – because even at my best I’m introverted and don’t love having people around all the time – but the world of nature. Feeling like the sky has retreated as far as it can go, like the air itself is dead. I know the cold of death. I’ve felt what happens when a person’s heart stops, when the blood no longer warms the flesh and everything settles, quiet; everything falls. Quicker than you’d think.
That’s what February feels like. Loss, death. It feels like being alone even when you’re not, alone in the soul. It feels like laughter – not the kind that’s shared, but the kind that makes you cry and go home and wonder just how much blood is five pints, and how much would it fill your bathtub if you set it free? Not that you plan to. You just wonder, what if.
Eliot is famous for claiming April as the cruelest month, but I disagree. At least in April there’s hope for spring. The air smells different; there’s life, no matter how tiny the first stirrings, on the wind. In February, hope is lost. It’s cold, numb; impatience and lethargy all at once, at war. It’s the dusty, distant memory of spring that keeps us going, not the expectation for it. We know it’s still too far away to hope for. Hope is a springtime emotion. Winter is despair.