Now in the dark world where I dwell, ugly things, and surprising things, and sometimes little wondrous things, spill out in me constantly, and I can count on nothing.
—Philip K. Dick
Winter has traditionally been a difficult time. In my youth, the holidays were filled with family gatherings where I never found my place1. Then I started coming into my own, but everyone else began spending time with their significant others, leaving me an observer with a surrogate family. Eventually, I grew the need for a connection with people who could better understand the person I’d become, and again found myself in exile.
This year is no different. The weather has been particularly punishing, with extreme cold fronts that make any form of travel a literal pain. It’s a fine line between inspiration and oppression when trapped in a winter wonderland. Even after a week of Darren’s company, along with new instruments and some of the stickiest of the icky, I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of loneliness.
Still, it was a comfort to see him after so long. The time apart has brought to light refinements in his person; he’s more patient, more gentle, more empathetic, more agreeable, more willing to take the initiative when difficulty arises. I’m pleasantly surprised each time I recognize the ways in which he’s grown, as I had no idea the adult version of Darren would include such noble qualities. After dealing with the loss of both a significant romantic relationship and parent within a year, I’m glad (and a little relieved) to know he’s come out a better man for it all.
We decided to reject the usual holiday obligations and start our own traditions, not answering to anyone or anything but our own hedonistic desires. My time with people tends to be carefully managed, while Darren now likes to be free with his, so we made the point of doing our own thing together.
I have to wonder if his inability to focus on any activity comes from feeling so jaded. It’s been a few years since anything has truly brought him joy, but I can tell the old Darren is still in there — one who still has dreams and passions and desires — because he still reminisces fondly about our past, still talks about the future as if it’s some scary unknown. It means he hasn’t given up yet, and the most I can do is hope our time together helped convince him that happiness isn’t just a fading memory.
If only the pulpit from which I preach wasn’t really thin ice over a terrible cold black lake. Even with the support of a wholly fulfilling and satisfying relationship, the stability never stops feeling like a fragile one. Sometimes, I still have to take things day by day, cause I can’t possibly imagine making it through the week. My struggle with suicidal ideation usually involves a lack of coping resources, and every year, when the world slows down, going on never seems worth it. I have to wonder if it’s just the winter again, speaking silent in my ear.
- Now I realize that being forced to spend a night with a random assortment of people is a crapshoot at best. [↩]