Under A Quiet Snow

“Hey, can you give me a hand?”

I enter Melissa’s room and pull my hair into my hand, wincing as it pulls on the nape of my neck. I bend my head over and add: “My hair is stuck in my bikini.”

Melissa giggles and her fingers gently untie my bikini, combing my hair out and fixing my clothing. We were talking earlier, lamenting the cold and the stress of the new term, and decided to head over to the campus rec center. We decided we could relax a little in the hot tub and that would jumpstart the week ahead.

It is snowing when we leave the dorm, and for a moment we balk and wonder if we should just stay in. But it is a short walk and staying in means doing homework, so we forge on.

I hate the cold, and while snow is pretty and everything I think I’ll always prefer to be too hot than too cold. Still, there is one feature of snow I appreciate.

The quiet.

Standing under a fresh snow under a dark sky is a deeply quiet experience.

It is a quiet that is heavy, and curves in around you. It swaddles you and deadens your ears. Far away you can hear a car driving, you can make out the buzz of the streetlights or the music in your headphones – you can hear the thud of your heart and the breath of your friend standing beside you. But those sounds are distant compared to this pressing, insistent quiet under the snow.

“Grace?” Melissa prompts, hopping from foot to foot and tucking into her coat. I have stopped walking halfway down the sidewalk, standing and breathing and absorbing this ethereal quiet.

“Yes, sorry.” I mumble and wonder what is wrong with me as we bustle on in the wind, eyes on the bright lights of the rec center.

It is a quiet like this that makes me wonder about myself – about why I am the way I am and think the way I think. What could possess me to stand stock still in subzero weather under the pretense of taking in the quiet. What makes me decide to write about these odd experiences, why do I feel the need to take relationships so seriously?

Obviously all three of those statements regard different things; the first a weird physical behavior, the second my essence as a writer, the third how I approach social interaction. Somewhat unrelated to one another but ultimately embedded in me.

The walk back to our dorm is not as cold, given we have spent a luxurious amount of time in the hot tub. Melissa asks as we walk back:

“Do you think classes will be canceled tomorrow?”

I shrug and give a vague answer; it is hard to listen like this, I am so focused on the quiet.

-Grace T, February 2018

-Caught in the silence  / An echo lost in space / It comes and goes in waves – Waves, Dean Lewis

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