The first day of winter, 2005.
The longest night. Maybe I won’t sleep. I haven’t stayed up all night in years. The things that once kept me up all night have faded, the urgencies, the emergencies, the crazy buzz.
I’m afraid though.
I go outside on these long nights and walk in the streets and feel alone amid the parked cars and closed up houses decorated for the big holiday. It feels good to be alone, with no false heartiness, no empty bravado, no season’s greetings. Peace on earth. Season of love, season of hope. Season of desperation.
Los Angeles is the coldest city, paved for a hundred miles. Even the rivers are made of concrete. The smiles are so hard and bright they have lost their meaning, and the brilliance of the lights hides the stars themselves.
We have defeated winter. We have put the storm windows in storage and moved to the coast and turned on all the lights and there will be no longest night, and this darkness will not seep into our souls. Winter, we have felt your chill, and we are not afraid. We will gather together with the ones we love and we will eat and sing and put lights on the roof, lights on the trees, we will light fires against the cold and dark.
Winter doesn’t care. Winter says You have to deal with me. You think you’ve escaped, but you’ve only imprisoned yourself with your decorations and your lights and your pavement and your season’s greetings. I am cold, I am darkness, and I am coming to your town, wherever you have built it, and one of these times I may decide to stay.
I’m almost alone on this longest night, just me and the silence and the parked cars. From under one of them, a small animal watches me, a cat. It is careful but not afraid, and I want to touch it, to pick it up and cradle it near my heart, feel it’s heartbeat, talk to it of spring and life, feel it’s warmth, learn it’s bravery.
But the cat knows what I want, and it runs away.