The streets of Richmond are grey and baron this week, and the people passing by are grimacing from the involuntary tears streaming out of their eyes– if their faces aren’t covered up by a thick scarf or ski mask. Three blocks suddenly seems much further away than it did in September. The sun, weak from blazing through summer, sets at 5 in the evening. It is Winter. Winter: the incubus that sits on everyone’s chest, sucking out their will to live.
Winter comes in the same way that Ernest Hemingway describes bankruptcy, and with an equal sensation of despair—“gradually, and then suddenly.” Wasn’t I content with outdoor seating only a few weeks ago? What have I done to deserve air that hurts when it touches my skin? Why are any number of jackets and coats, no matter how downy, never thick enough? The warmth and cheer of Thanksgiving and Christmas are flashes of hope, but are quickly swallowed up in Winter’s icy embrace.
Winter is the only season equipped with its own special brand of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder, a melancholy so simple and pure that it was destined for the acronym SAD. Looking for a reminder of how the powers that be have forsaken you? Go outside. Just being in the open, stings. You know what else stings? Bees sting. Wasps sting. Alcohol poured over an open wound stings. If you say winter is your favorite season, you must be a revenant with no memory of what life was like before the frost.
Everything Winter touches, dies. Do I need to go on? The plants are dead, birds fly away to find warmth, even the mosquito- the relentless stalker of the insect world- is nowhere to be found once the cold sets in. This season sucks. All we can do now is huddle for warmth and wait it out. If you need me, I’ll be inside, under my SAD lamp, trying not to contemplate why we are all playing the role of Winter’s scorned lover.