Time To Move On


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5. Day Five: Breaking Up a Dog Fight

It feels like the top of the world. The sun is harsh and perennial, and the air is always crisp and light. We pretend not to notice the ring of brown smog hugging the horizon. It's been another dry winter. Here, wthe  comes late, and though the solstice occurs in December, February is the darkest and snowiest month of the year. It's a time of hibernation, when not even the warmest blanket or the most enticing cup of tea can keep the feeling of losing oneself away.

Your skin so pale it looks blue in the morning light, your fingers seized into bony pegs in the chill. The long slender fingers draped across the neck of a violin, muted strings and hesitation, listening.

Now, it is easy to see underneath the neon signs of prosperity, to travel back to the dawn of the last century. The elegant arch of a brick facade catches the eye differently against a snow-pink sky, or through the fog of the breath. The percussive strikes of horse hooves against pavement echo down narrow downtown streets; the kitschy romance of it slightly marring the nostalgia, the invocation of a time before pavement, before the sealing over of the earth.

You find yourself turning away from window displays bearing yuletide treasures. It doesn't feel like the right time. You have to tick off names on your Christmas list, but the sullen five o'clock darkness has you in its mouth. People do crazy things this time of year, to rage against the dying of the light. You pass a poster advertising a frigid jump into a local lake, and another boasting a glittery portrait of an engagement ring, the banner "'tis the season" scrawled in digital calligraphy across the bottom.

On full moon nights, and days of fresh snows, there's a Rockwell-esque sanctity to it, when people espouse their love for all things wintry and snow angels suddenly make sense. It's the rest of it that can't quite slip beneath the glitter and the rouge. The slushy galaxies on the post office floor, black-white checkers melded with gray, are something nobody knows how to confront. The desperately dark mornings when deep purple tints the songs on the radio, and you can't remember how to feel any other way. This is why we sing Silent Night.

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