SNOWFLAKES SPUTTERED ON DRAFTS of air like meagre handfulls of confetti wearily tossed at a birthday party. The romance of winter’s silence was wearing thin on me; already the season had been peppered with bitter seconds of convulsing restlessness, and I’d just barely slogged through January.
From the window of my apartment I looked out into bleakness, frustrated in my search for words and longing to travel. My two white tormentors: the empty page and the snow-covered ground – both inhibiting me from something, I felt.
I’d been mulling over the idea of an escape, maybe down to El Paso to visit my grandfather, or out to see a friend in New York – it would still be cold there, but would at least provide a change of scenery. Yet I had this inkling that my restlessness would follow me, that perhaps it was tied up with my frame of mind.
So the day trembled on. I went out to go pick up sandwiches from a nearby coffee shop, and as I returned home the sun began to shimmer through the clouds. But I could feel its cheapness, it’s lack of warmth; it brought no hope for spring.
Intermittently in my attempts to write I scoured the Internet for music that might inspire me. I rattled through album reviews and thirty-second samples, yet nothing caught me. I stared back at the blank screen. It was the defeat of something undeclared – I didn’t know what I was trying to express, only that I was failing at it.
Later my fiancee and I went to catch a movie. The film was heartbreaking – a true story about the former editor of French Elle, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who lost all control of his body save his left eye after a massive stroke. Yet Bauby maintained the full capacity of his mind, and through a system of blinking not only learned to speak but was able to write a book, sharing his imagination and his experience.
As we left the theater, my own frustrations settled into the larger perspective.
That night we waded through slushy streets to join friends for dinner and drinks. As we sipped on pints, a friend who’s had his share of confusing moments and stalled plans expressed to me new ambition – he was pouring himself into creative projects, attempting to leave something of himself in this city before heading to California.
Though we each owned to exhaustion with the cold, I could feel that he was breaking through to something; a driving energy to change his environment, a restlessness converted into action. He was juicing his time here as I was biding it, hoping for this dreary season to close.
As I walked to work the next day my thoughts were drawn out into the quiet morning air – they flitted like easy brushstrokes, soaking the empty streets in their color.
Photo: prairie in winter, by pawpaw67. madison.