I walked towards the pier of self reflection. Wrapped from head to toe in heavy winter clothes. Including gloves boots hat and my best ally a thick soft scarf. Black of course because it had become the color I felt most attracted to. The lack of color allowing me to hide behind it... expressionless.
The wind whipped across my face. Slapping hair into my eyes as I rounded the corner. With fat cotton fingers I pushed my hair from my face and stuffed it in my hat, while tightening my scarf around my neck and ears. All one swift movement perfected by years of cold, bitter winters.
My friends had been back this year for the holidays. For the cold short days. And for me. It was because of them that I was walking through this biting wind down to the water. I had to say goodbye.
The smell of the salty sea filled both my nostrils and my soul with a sense of purification. The sound of waves like a mothers lullaby, rocking me gently towards her breast. Drawing me closer to her. Onto the boardwalk and into the sea spray, mixed with snow just starting to fall. Facing the sky and the ocean, I took it in all at once. If it wasn't such an important day I would stop and linger, sway with the wind, and feel the beauty in the things that cannot be seen.
But today is important. So I settle for a few snowflakes on my tongue, turn left, and start again on my mission. My friends are leaving early this year and I feel obligated to see them off. Although they came to visit me as scheduled... I had hoped that this year they wouldn't. That maybe just maybe I could have a little peace this winter.
Of course I never said this aloud, so one after they other they had arrived. Bringing with them all the memories of the past. Traipsing in through the front door. Bringing the cold in with them until it seemed it would never get warm again.
I was hospitable. Although I had dreaded their yearly visit, I was almost pleased to have such company. We went back a long way and this year had been trivial. Next year being so uncertain at least I could count on winter to be so repetitive.
I looked up to see the harbor around the bend. I was to meet them at the only pier with a passenger boat. And there it sat, white and navy blue, rocking gently with the waves. I was cold even with every part of me swaddled but now I felt the warmth in my heart start to grow. I was so glad to be saying farewell. It made me realize that I could have done it years ago. But for some reason the time was now and it was right.
I had finally stood up for myself. After settling into the holiday swing, readying for dinners and family, I realized that I wanted to go solo this year. I told my guests this and wasn't totally surprised when my wish for solidarity rubbed them the wrong way. After the confrontation we weren't like we were last winter or the winter before that. The end had begun.
Although I celebrated my holiday with family. And I passed into my New Year while working, I knew that I would have to ask my friends to leave. I couldn't stand lying in bed waiting for their chatter to stop so that I could find the silence needed to sleep.
So after one too many nights of disturbed sleep... I asked them very simply... to leave.
Turning right onto to the slippery wooden pier of self reflection, I walked the last fifty yards towards a new kind of winter. One without the companions I had grown to know. I stopped in front of the boat and searched for familiarity. I could see the baggage stacked high waiting to be sealed from the seepy weather.
I could only partly see through the lower deck windows where I knew my friends sat. A blue fluorescent illumination kept in by fog and steam. If they were expecting a farewell it wasn't apparent. And why should it be? This was the end.
As if on cue the engines roared to life while deckhands finished sealing compartments and untethering the rope that held the vessel so anchored. Slowly at first then gaining speed the boat left me standing there. Alone.
"Goodbye" I thought.
With that I turned around to see the sun burn through the clouds just enough to light my way. By myself. With peace in my heart I started home. Where it would finally be warm again.
Dedicated to my winter companions:
Worry, Fear, Doubt, Sadness, and Depression. May I never have you back for winter again.