Sunday, January 24, 2016

Summer, were you ever here?

The other day, I missed home.

In the midst of the emptied market corner of Union Square, I watched snow-filled clouds - the cold color of white-blue and purple – meld to cover the sky.  For an indefinite wintry spell, I’d miss the presence of the sun. I secretly mourned it inside my heart.

I grew up in Florida in a small Greek town called Tarpon Springs. There, cloudy days are also usually wet and warm. For a day or two, heavy-bellied grey clouds may unleash rains and winds might rustle or even thrash the tops of palm trees, but the sounds of thunder and claps of lightning are constant reminders of nature happening outside and around me.  The grass, I imagine, drinks up every splash happily. I feel safe and quenched inside. 

Cloudy winters are different.

Living in the northeast for twelve years has now come to be both effortless adoration and active “management.”  The ease comes from the everywhere beauty in the seasons I had always learned about in grade school: the way leaves literally “fall” in the fall (who knew?), tumbling across the street with every gust.  The way a silent winter frost brings a time for hibernation of both flower buds on resilient branches and for animals – humans, I include.  Freshly fallen snow sparkles like white diamonds as the city goes to sleep (but not without baking gooey chocolate chip cookies first). Then spring flirtatiously peeks out one day here and there toward the end of winter, tulip bulbs suddenly bursting into powerful stalks with color.  Cafes bring out their folding chairs and tables to their sidewalks and suddenly, dating is actually fun again.  The blurry summer heat seems to interrupt quickly - air conditioner sale signs taped on lampposts and PC Richards warehouses. Chilled bottles of water sold for $1 by random souls who wonderfully dis-heed the law can practically save your life.  I wait for the woman selling pre-cut spiced mango and cold orange slices in baggies. 

The burden comes from finally giving in, dropping to hands and knees to yank out the garbage bag full of heavy winter clothing wedged under the bed.  The 20 minutes of tango between yes and no before actually accepting going outside in the cold, another 20 minutes of dressing and lacing up heavy boots, looking for that damned other glove (where did I put it? Crap, did I drop it on the way home yesterday? Oh, no, there it is), checking the weather again on your smart phone after suiting up to see if you really need your wool hat, getting sidetracked by a new text message before the cold air hits your face.  Even in layered in cream and gloves, ashy and dry hands make you wonder: summer, were you ever here?

There, in Union Square, the snow clouds gathered outside of me and above me. For a moment, I felt them in my heart. I secretly worried if I would ever see the sun again.

I walked into the bodega, and the glass door jingled closed behind me.  My eyes dodged between the packets of Swiss Miss hot cocoa at the hot water station and refrigerated section where my eyes caught: “Freshly Squeezed Florida Orange Juice.”

I pulled off my gloves to open the carton and I took a swig of chilled juice. Eyes closed in that moment, I was transported home. The warm rains and sunrays just raised the oranges recently. I could feel the moist soil under my shoes and smell the citrus groves not far from my house.

Around me and above me, blue clouds.  Inside of me, sweet yellow summer.

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