Now is the winter of my discontent
Today the pale morning sun streaming through my downtown abode brought to mind the kind of unparalelled elation I once felt upon waking up the morning after with someone I'd just fallen in love with. There's that feeling that life is starting anew, and is truly worth living to the full.
But just the other day the skies were steel grey. We were having what may be the last snowfall of the season in New York after a very unseasonably warm winter. It's made for a peculiar--even bizarre--few months. Though mild weather is pleasant, of course, still and all I felt a bit gypped, because I'm one of those folks who thoroughly enjoys the changing seasons. I believe, literally and figuratively, that sunlight loses some of its significance without the cloudiness and darkness which sets it off, and the full joys of spring require, for me, enduring the ardors of the winter which precedes it.
So on this day I watched the snowfall, and observed the downtown skyline from one of the bedroom windows. The tops of the buildings were cut off by fog rather ominously , which brought to mind the melancholy fact that I would never again see the tip of the antennae from one of the towers of the World Trade Center from this window again.
Looking down, I could see the row of ancient four story tenements across the street, most of which are old synagoges. There are still a community of Orthodox Jews here, though many of the older members have died off. I imagine that some of the smaller shuls I see struggle mightily each day to get the quorum of twelve together that they need to conduct their morning and evening prayers, especially when the winter months make it hard for the old timers to climb up the steep steps leading up to the shul.
Despite it all, I daresay if I lived in Southern California I would be one unhappy camper. The unrelenting blue skys and bright sunshine would be as oppressive to me as the overabundance of rain in Seattle. I like snow, but not all winter long, as in Wisconsin. In short, I like to mix it up.
If New York had Southern California weather, I think it would lose some of its essential character and tough 'tude. For example, while watching Law and Order, whose outdoor scenes (if not the whole show) are filmed in NYC, seeing detectives in their overcoats huddled over a corpse dumped by the East River somehow seems more authentic to me than a similar scene on CSI: Miami. It just seems more like a vacation than a life or death vocation when you can sport a short sleeve shirt, with no need to turn up your collar to block out the cruel wind, while surveying mangled remains.
There's also something bizarre about living in a climate where a white Christmas is as rare as plague of locusts. Is there anything quite as comforting as coming in from the freezing cold into a nice warm house with gifts around the tree and a warm fireplace, or waking on a frighteningly cold weekend morning with the steam pipes whistling gently, keeping you cozy and warm while you smugly glance out your apartment window to see those poor sods battling the cruel weather outside? By the same token, Thanksgiving just doesn't seem right without that forboding purple-grey sky threatening snow or sleet, and Halloween doesn't sit well with me unless there's a distinct chill in the air.
The reason for my melancholy these past few winter days has to do with the fact that before long, I will no longer be able to see the winter in quite this way, from these windows, for we are, as I've mentioned many times, getting ready to sell our coop.
At times like this I recall the first winter we spent here. We'd moved from the glitzy Upper East Side down to the humble Lower East Side. Even as the surrounding neighborhood gradually became more hip, this little enclave of coops is still a little world unto itself, with a decidedly non-hip gestalt.
When we moved, our financial situation had become as austere as the bare-treed winter. Our credit cards were maxed out from all our fancy Upper East Side high living days, and we had to watch every penny. But this was both a valuable lesson to me as well as a rather enjoyable exercise, for I soon came to enjoy traveling from supermarket to supermarket following the weekly sales. Many's the weekend I spent shlepping groceries home on the bus because I loved the large (for Manhattan) Key Food on Avenue A--too far to walk back with heavy packages. There was a Pathmark not far from there, and a largish local supermarket two blocks down as well.
Rather than our old routine of eating out, I brought my treasures home and utilized my new eat-in kitchen to cook all sorts of dinners from scratch. I went from being an abysmal cook to a halfway decent one, and there was nothing quite like the smell of chicken or roast beef cooking in the oven to make me feel like a true homemaker at last.
On our first Christmas at our new apartment, my now ex-boyfriend L hung blinking Christmas lights in the living room windows and beautiful little globe lights around the perimeter of the bedroom windows. We kept the latter on all night long, and it was immensely comforting to sleep by the glow of these gently colorful orbs.
On the first night we hung the new lights up, we went out into the winter night and stood in front of our apartment building. Looking up, we could see our lights up there in our windows, and it was a humble epiphany that I will remember forever.
I can't honestly say that I don't look forward to the warm breezes of spring. For one thing, so many of my hypomanic episodes, large and small, seemed to coincide with this time of year that I have another set of cherished memories and ephiphanies to match the season. But it still saddens me that soon I will no longer be able to watch the seasons pass in my cherished downtown abode. Without these windows which have given me such an abundance of light and a unique perspective to the outside world, my view of the seasons will never be the same.