by Erica Parnis
I fell in love with you in the dead of winter. It started in the chilly half-autumn, half-winter limbo of November, and it grew during the gingerbread haze of December. We were both in and out of other relationships, but it was obvious that there ran between us a stubborn thread of companionship that resisted definition. From mutual friends I heard the constant refrain of “you two should date,” which we’d shoo away with sarcasm and averted eyes. I’m still unconvinced that our rebuttals were anything but thinly veiled acknowledgements of something more.
Those first months were a clumsy collage of indie rock and imperial stout, the memory of which has only gotten sharper with time. In January, I thought of new beginnings with you. I imagined playful kisses in lesser-known cafes, and I wondered why I had a thousand words in my head, but none contained enough syllables to express how I felt about you. I’ve still yet to find those words, but you’ll uncover in these paragraphs my most sincere attempt to turn a jumbled mess of feelings into something resembling a confession.
By the first week of February, the snow had given up its crisp white in favor of a brownish-grey slush that splashed under my rubber boots. Somewhere between chilly gloved fingers and the warmth of whiskey I fell in love with your eyes—the way they seemed electric as they flickered across the faces of strangers in bars and rested on mine. Sky blue, like in all the songs and poems that aren’t worth a thing.
With a laugh, you’d serve me snarky comments and I’d toss them back without a thought. I decided early on that you were my favorite conversational tennis partner. The slush melted in March, and you found someone else to return your serves. I tried to do the same. at quickly fell apart, and I decided that T.S. Eliot was right when he said that April was the cruelest month. My mind went back to you and to winter, to skinny love buried under ice and the foam in your latte bubbling away as I listened to you hum a tune I could only pretend to recognize.
In May we drifted apart, and in the summer drifted even further. But each time I saw you again we fell back together as though the hands on the clock had respectfully halted their revolutions. My memories from those days are few but fond, more like blurry snapshots than vivid film reels. I remember feeling my heartbreak fade to black as you drove us around rocky country roads. I remember smiling at the floor as I listened to you effortlessly chat with my mother. What I can’t quite recall, though, is when our unspoken “no” turned into “maybe,” and “maybe” turned into everything I’ve ever wanted.
It’s January again now, and the days are getting shorter. I seem to have fallen for you all over again. It’s happened in a number of places—behind the fingerprint-smudged lens of an old camera, from the passenger seat of your car with a smile, and in a reassuring hand squeeze in the quiet dark. I still can’t believe that I found you, picked you out of the crowd. It’s even more difficult to believe that you picked me back.
I can’t say what the spring will hold for us, but I doubt I’ll tire of hearing you talk about old cars or your grandfather’s coat, or that you think I’m beautiful. I won’t get bored of your mind, or your words, or the way you smile with your eyes, like the night the rain made our shirts damp and the vinyl scratched in the background as you pressed your lips against mine for the first time.
The seasons have changed, and so have we. But one thing is constant: you’ve made me happy from the night you rested your head in my lap on the snowy library lawn to the sleepy Sunday mornings we’ve spent intertwined.