(Dedicated to my mom, who apparently likes my writing and wished for more.)
People always told me California had the best weather. It was always sunny. I remember not noticing the seasons changing when I was younger, only that one moment it was a hot summer day, and the next it was a little cooler. Once a year I might don a thicker winter coat and be able to see my breath curling in the air. Sometimes I would pretend like I was smoking a cigarette. After all, it was the Nineties and smoking was still considered a hip thing to do.
I never actually wanted to smoke, I just loved being able to see that thing in me that was so often invisible: my breath. My life. I loved seeing the intangible become more tangible in the starry night sky. Now that I’m in Washington, I can see my breath almost every night. My co-workers think it’s cute or funny, my excitement over something so small. But my life is built upon small things and I have a tendency to focus on the negative.
So being able to see a sign of my life floating momentarily in front of me brings me joy. It is a small joy in a world of small fears and anxieties, of self-loathing and doubt. Like the pattering of rain on a window, it is a force of nature which somehow makes me feel lighter and smaller, but smaller in a good way. It feels like the world is not so big, that it is only me in my world and that I can do anything.
I love feeling that crisp air biting at my cheeks, swallowing it as I breathe, feeling that frosty shiver run through me with the desire for a fireplace. I love it. I love finally being able to experience a seasonal change, seeing the leaves on the trees turn from green to yellow to red to amber and, finally, brown. It is sad and wonderful to see this kind of death. Soon the trees will be barren–the ones that like the warm sun more, anyway–but I will be full and decorated with their colors. Muddy boots, maroon sweaters, green scarves, golden purses.
Pumpkins will line the streets with their eyes aglow before we feast on stuffing and turkey legs. Coffee mugs will rest warm in hands and soothe our aching fingers from a long day at work. Clouds will roll in and drench the roads with reflections that put the sky on the ground. Candles will be lit and that amber light will radiate a warmth that the eternal Californian summer cannot match.
I will be missing my family this year. We would carve pumpkins together and partake in those pumpkin spiced goodies and drinks from our local coffee shops. We would surround ourselves with family and friends and laughter. So though this year I am blessed with being able to see my own breath and watch the seasons change as they should, the greatest warmth I am missing will be that which comes from the love of my family and friends.