Life writing: Winter will always be my home

Photograph of a black and white shooting target with bullet holes near the bullseye

Some people come to life in the summer. I am not solar-powered. I am not a heat-seeking missile. My most beautiful memories are of the cold and the dark. Winter has blessed me with the most meaningful of experiences, so it will always be beautiful to me. Winter will always be my home.

The night my new boyfriend and I decided that it wasn’t too cold to walk home, so we did, but it was actually below zero and when we got back to my house we remarked over how the chocolate bars we bought from the twenty-four hour garage up the road had frozen in our pockets and we couldn’t feel our faces. We wrapped our hands around warm cups of tea and our arms around each other and a blanket around ourselves and fourteen years later I still recall that night with a smile. It was the first of many walks together, many pavements and many words.

The heavy snow fall a few years ago when my car got stuck in the street outside my studio at eleven o’clock at night and I was trying to decide whether or not it was wise to just give up and walk home in my not-nearly-sensible-enough shoes when two complete strangers in a much sturdier car than mine pulled over. For a brief moment I thought, “Maybe they’re going to help me or maybe they’re going to bundle me into the boot of their car and no-one will ever see me again”. I shrugged my shoulders and took my chances. They towed my car out of the parking space and onto the road and I realised that as a woman, alone in a dark and deserted street at night, I probably should have been afraid, but I wasn’t, because. Because. And I still don’t know how to finish that sentence.

Last Christmas, staying with my parents for a week and spending most of that time curled up on a couch much bigger and softer than the battered leather monstrosity in my own living room. On one crisp, bright afternoon my dad brought out his air pistol, set up a small target in the garden and I was reminded of the natural flair I have for shooting. Afterwards, we went inside and ate home-made soup and listened to Ennio Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe. I still have the little paper target, to remind me in times of self-doubt, that I am capable of accuracy and control.

A long time ago, opening the front door as quietly as I could so I didn’t wake anyone else, and walking out into the stillness and silence of a street of sleeping houses covered in a thick blanket of white and magic. I did cartwheels down the middle of the road, leaving hand print hand print foot print foot print behind me. Then I closed my eyes and tilted my face up to meet the falling snow and knew that I would remember this. And I did. And I do. And I will.

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