It Was Cold This Morning

by JW

EVERETT, WA

It was cold this morning. Probably the coldest morning so far. I had gloves and a jacket over my suit, and I didn’t really feel it, but that’s not important. It was the first morning in months where the temperature actually felt like it mattered, like it was purposeful. It’s not like the air was just not warm yet—it was the whole world that was damp and heavy and icy this morning. And it wasn’t content to just mind its own affairs and let the living things be.

Every face on the road this morning was different. They’re always different from each other, unique, you know, but this morning they were different because they were all the same. It was like the wet, clingy air had wrapped each face in its hands for a brief moment to start the day with a chilly caress that then drove straight to the eyes and lips of every living person who wasn’t still asleep, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they’re even alive to begin with.

There were no windows rolled down either, that was different, except for the occasional crack to make room for bad habits and even then he didn’t really want the window down.        He had to have the window down if he wanted to live, which apparently he did. Of course, that’s human nature, to a degree. But still I wonder if there was a small part of him that would just have rather left the window up and been done with it all. The irritated posture of his lips and his dangerously unoccupied stare said yes.

That was actually every single face. I mean his specifically, obviously, but also every other face I passed or passed me or just tagged along for a bit or stared into my smiling face as we shared a red light, cursing me for being so unfairly happy at 6:34 a.m. on a morning otherwise defined by gray. What right did I have to not look like them? And to not feel like them. And to not be as clearly disinterested in everything as they were.

This didn’t stop. In two ways, as a matter of fact. The faces didn’t stop as I drove light after light. And I didn’t stop being happy at every single one of them, lights and faces. There was more, though, weighing on the minds of every human image I saw this morning. They were all angry at something and at themselves a little bit too, I think, because they were engulfing their coffee like they wished it was poison or aspirin or both, I’m not sure which.

But it was clear they knew something was happening—sooner or later. Maybe sooner for some. Others, not sure when, but still sure that. And it was so, so plain and simple, in a read-between-the-lines sort of way, that they didn’t want to think about it. Ignoring it was the best plan, and ignoring it took work and effort and distraction and then translated itself into a demon manipulating the features of faces already slapped about by the rude awakening of the natural world’s icy demeanor.

And, face it, we don’t always want to look at the pink heffalump in the room. Actually we drive ourselves inceptuously to the crumbling dirt of the brink of the chasm of insanity, convinced that the only way to think less about something is to spend more time thinking about not thinking about it. And the faces. That’s what they were! Their minds were so set on not setting their minds on that ultimate question that the coldness of the morning turned out being nothing more than a sweet, sticky lollipop tugged from the mouth of an entitled child, forcing his attention to the father, whose kindness in conferring candy had gone unappreciated all too often.

So the faces around me were not cold, not really. Warmth had left, and the Giver of warmth emerged again on the welcome mat of their thoughts, prompting the reminder of just how much they, truly, in their heart of hearts, knew yet refused to acknowledge; realized but declined to recognize.

It was indeed cold this morning. I saw it in their faces and smiled at each and every one of them. Because what they fought I embraced, and that which is the terror of their solitude is the joy of my existence. And that is why my gloves and a coat really didn’t matter. I was not cold this morning—because my life is lived in the arms of the Giver of warmth.

-JW

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