I'm going to need it bad this year, I know; I'm going to need it like oxygen and it will burn a little in me, a sadness, an absence, until I'm half-eaten with want. I'm going to need the quiet, the nostalgia. I'm going to need a dusting of snow, a bit of winter, a broad scatter of colored lights on faded white lawns.
I'm going to need Christmas this year.
Tonight I left work in a fog all my own; I was brisk and subdued by the day. I felt untouchable, sealed up, a blind man on a bus. I didn't expect to connect with much of anything. I was vulnerable when I slipped outside and the chill slapped at my cheeks.
This is it, I thought, surprised, woken up, one heel tapping in front of the other on my way to the car, this is fall, this is the season changing, and I was fine. I was in good company, with the sharp air, the still night and the aromatic exhaust waving up like cigarette smoke near my knees.
While walking I breathed, deep and deeper again, and remembered all the thousands of times I'd done that before, clutching my coat neck between all five fingers, head down, moving quickly. I imagined how many different periods of my life have been represented by this gesture - the one perfect holiday we spent as a couple with my family, the isolated moments of teenage undoing that I wore miserably in the breathtaking barrenness of Alaska, the oblivious, gift-thrilled childhood trips through mall corridors painted up in red and green with twinkling wreaths hung from each automatic door.
If you wanted to write me, you would write me at this time of year. If you wanted to write me happy.