It wasn’t the wind-whipped Chicago or ice-choked Philadelphia winters of my youth that broke my spirit, it was Syracuse, New York.
When I was in college, the snow began falling in September and didn’t relent until just before finals in May. The snow drifted over our heads, locking our cars to the curbside. Worse still, the sky turned solid, ashen gray and refused to break for months.
And so it’s not atypical to find myself, come March, at just about wit’s end.
I woke to raindrops on my window. I found it kind of quaint. I’d slept ten, sweet, dreamless hours, and was ready for my Tuesday (the least of all days of the week). On the street, all signs pointed to spring. But by lunchtime, as I struck out for my vegan burito, God struck back. “Ha!” He mocked. “You thought you’d made it!”
Truth is, I thought I’d navigated this winter’s stars quite well. As you’ve noticed, I’ve travelled quite a bit, staying just ahead of every snow storm, and underneath every stray ray of sunshine. Sunday night, though, my travels ended (for a few months anyway). It was face the music time.
Ends up the music is kind of stark, less James Taylor melancholy and more John Cage severe. It’s still blues and grays, right angles and broken glass.
I lived in Saratoga Springs — no less arctic than Syracuse — the year after college. It was another terrible, long winter. I was without mooring. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, where I was going. But there was one signpost along the way.
It was on the east side of Route 9, I think. There was a BBQ shack there, not much to look at, really, just an A&W drive-in sorta’ place. They had one of those plastic signs with a flashing arrow on it that had big black lettering that read, “JUST 62 DAYS UNTIL SPRING!”
I counted those days like the stars at dawn every time I drove by. One by one they ticked away until, soon enough, night gave way to morning, and the sun rose again.