In the morning when I wake I never can shake the thrill of seeing snow. From where I lie, here cocooned in sheets and duvet, I see the balcony railing out my window lined with delicate white peaks. If I lift my head a little, or on the occasions I have slept with two pillows, I can see the tree from our neighbour’s yard - the snow decorates every branch. It’s magic. “Like Narnia” I later say on the phone to you, not knowing how else to describe it. I feel like a child again watching it fall here at the windowsill.
One winter, I think it was -45, -46 out?
Yeah, -46 degrees celsius, it was a Saturday
Yeah, and we’d organised to go to this dance party-
We’d already started pre-ing!
Anyway we ended up not going, the six of us huddled together in the lounge room drinking wine instead,
We slept there on the lounge room floor, in a huddle!
Yep, it was the warmest room in the house, I think just from our body heat
I feel a child again when she and I traipse through the aftermath of the snow storm. We move slowly, shakily, adopting the shuffle we saw others doing to steady ourselves on the iced-over path. But she delights in the great mounds of snow that line the streets and we become mischiefs in the night, kicking at the soft sculptures, breaking their perfectly formed bodies, erupting into laughter when her one sweeping gesture catapults snow into me, my hair, so that I am alight, now uncaring of the cold or the wet, or these boots or the wind chill or my rounded body under all the many layers of clothes.
The apartment is quiet and mostly dark, and it’s so cold tonight that he won’t step outside to smoke the cigarette. Instead he stands, bent at the hip with one heel raised against the other, blowing smoke out a narrow gap in the open window. I watch him from where I sit, knees hugged to my chest in an effort to warm them. We don’t say anything, we’re listening to Radiohead. I walk over to him, and push my hand through the opening to test the air. “Yep, cold” I say to him with a grin. He chuckles, looking down to his feet, but doesn’t respond. Later in bed together I press my hand to his chest and feel for his heart beating. I’m so cold I wear two layers, where he wears none. “You just have to acclimatise” he tells me.
Months later and we sit opposite each other on her bed. She tells me it’s that moment when you’re walking home from being out, when it’s well past midnight and the streets are mostly empty, and the snowfall has just stopped - it’s been falling for three days straight - so everything is still, like the point at which a ball thrown upwards hangs in the hair for one millisecond of a millisecond, suspended. It’s quiet because the snow is a natural dampener of noise, she says. In that moment, late at night amid the quiet when morning is still an inconceivable venture, that’s when the snow is best.
A memory of the apartment growing darker as the December light waned. We were new here, fresh just four days. Our things were splayed out over the floor, on the furniture, hanging on those empty hooks behind the door. Hours ago he had left, gone out to meet the people he would soon move in with. I had not moved since, my body draped here in blankets and coats - I couldn’t get warm. I soon grew tired of looking at my computer screen and re-positioned my body so that I lay, stomach-down on the couch with my chin resting on the windowsill, looking out onto the snow-covered street below.
I liked my perch here, safe from the clutches of the winter air. I liked watching the people navigate the snow, it was a lesson to me. I gazed lazily, following the movements of the passers-by, or the occasional car that rolled cautiously down the road along the ice. At one stage a father and son appeared in my viewing range. The son was young, perhaps three or four, clad comically in a thick one-piece outer layer. It seemed the young boy’s thick snow suit restricted any swift movement, for his steps were cautiously paced and as so, he lagged behind. He trudged behind his father, kicking a ball of snow absent-mindedly.
When the rain comes I am reminded of home and it is a relief, though a fleeting one. I recall much later in the year, when her and I sat, our limbs tangled together on the couch, and we laughed together about the on-come of spring, how this city had a wicked way of teasing warmer weather.
It’s not so condensed here. There are big, open spaces, where the skyline seems to trace a circle around me. Today, the cool wind didn’t sting, only tickled, and licked my skin. I wore a coat, open. I felt strong striding down Parc with my hair tied back. I dared them to appear. Afterwards, sitting on the curb drinking in the sunshine, I tried to capture it all: the tops of the apartment buildings, the way the light filtered in through the trees lining this street, their branches covered in new leaves, the way everyone moved with a certain buoyancy; their faces lit with a new-found optimism. My mind rushed forward to June, July, August; days ahead where the evenings would be warm and sweet. Warm. I think it’s my most uttered word.
At 4am Saint Joseph is busier. The occasional car passes by, I hear the echo of its motion from my bedroom.
I answer the door to you, swaying slightly, a crumpled Saint Viateur paper in one hand. You smell of cologne and tobacco but your breath against my neck when we embrace is something. Not arousing or relieving, or even welcoming. Familiar, perhaps. Embrace. It shouldn’t be the word to describe how our bodies came in contact, for I was reluctant to greet you with mine. When I got that text - the one telling me you’d arrived - I hadn’t yet decided whether I wanted your touch. But sitting next to you now, here on my front porch sunken in the trees, I watch you roll a cigarette carelessly and I want your touch. It’s a false comfort but I want it. I want it whilst I watch you drunkenly tear apart a bagel with your teeth. You’re chattering away nonsense, with one foot on the upside of your skateboard, rolling it back and forth beneath your chair. I don’t say anything because I can’t be bothered opening my mouth. I also feel like I haven’t slept for days. I press my fingers into the skin below my eyes and massage, slowly.
Oh, well thanks… it’s funny in french
It’s the same thing!
Yes but it feels more romantic, and that’s funny.
Maybe? Haha, I don’t know. Speak more french to me.
Nope, that’s all you get