I’m sitting in my favorite chair, the one by the front window. I clutch my hot chocolate in both hands as I stare blankly out at the sparkling white expanse of the front lawn, taking in the gentle grey of the sky, the steady flurry of the giant, white flakes, and the way the snow has slowly begun to fall from each individual tree branch.
As I sit, I see a leaf blowing stiffly in the wind. Some time ago, I would have marveled at the way this leaf had somehow found the strength to hang on to its tree through the fall months and into the new year, finally succumbing to the power of the first winter storm of the season when it could hang on no more. Now, I wonder why. Why did it cling so stubbornly to its branch? Why, when it would have been so simple for it to fall, crunching sharply under the foot of a little kid walking home from the bus stop, or the tire of a car moving slowly over the slick pavement, would this leaf endure the pain of holding on?
I used to love the snow. I loved the way it seemed to appear magically overnight, never making a sound. I loved the look of the sky just before a big snowstorm, and the color of the clouds as they graced the world beneath them with a blanket of glistening white. I loved the way it smelled, the way it tasted, the way it felt to take my gloves off and feel each individual snowflake melt into my skin. I used to find myself walking out into the yard, compelled by the majesty of the winter wonderland it had become, and just standing there in the cold, admiring the complete and utter beauty of the neighborhood as the snow fell.
Now, though I still acknowledge its magnificence, I am able to see past snow’s gentle beauty. Now, I look at the snow as it continues in its relentless descent to the earth, and I see the ugly that joins its beauty. Now, I see the woman who slips on the ice and hits her head after work. Now, I see the car accidents that come when the temperature drops and the streets become deadly sheets of ice. Now, I see the homeless that remain stuck outside in the storm with nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait for the storm to pass. Now, I see all that it has taken away from me despite the way I once cherished it.
Now, I miss the person that I used to be. I miss the girl who ran outside without a jacket just to stand and dance in the snow and feel it on her skin. I miss the girl who would sit in this very chair, drinking hot chocolate from this very mug, cozy in this very blanket, and stare at the snow for hours and hours, feeling only joy at the sight of it. I miss the girl who saw beauty before ugliness and love before hate. I’ve tried and tried to get that girl back, but now, as I stare out at this brave, stubborn leaf, I can see that she may never truly come back to me.