Last month my sister, the one who burned my screen top late last year, was in town and we spent another memorable day together. This time just with each other and our muses; not with laptops or ambiance candles. Warm, cardamom flavored chai replaced the gin and tonic while we compared our holidays. She was happy to have spent time with so much company, her in-laws, the boys, cousins and aunts and uncles, their friends – baking, entertaining, partying to their hearts' content.
“But I'm glad it's over, now I feel I'm tired.”
Then, I greeted the first moments of 2012 – alone.
While he purrs in his velvety warmth and safety at the foot of my bed, I remember another furry love. Like so many pieces of my heart which I left behind, he's preserved in a memory bubble cherishing a point of my life. Life is a series of repeated cycles each of which ushers us further away from our beginning. When I started school, a lady had asked me my age. I remember replying that I was seven years old. Annecim corrected me by adding that I had “completed seven, wearing into my eighth year”. I remember feeling upset, cheated out of an age, and asking Annecim later why I couldn't just say I was seven? She explained that in fact I had already lived my seventh year by the time we celebrated my “seventh” birthday and I was going into my eighth year. I didn't really like her explanation – probably because it is the truth, and as we know, truth often stings.
I find it amusing now when I look back and remember that it was only years that I quibbled about when I was a child. In adulthood, wearing even into my third decade was painless when I turned twenty-one. When spring is at its glory, and we're beaming with promises, age-related issues don't have the same urgency. They often evade us lightly – like a dandelion seedpod wafts in the breeze.
The realization hit me when I turned forty, that most desirable age – an age considered to be the apex of a woman's beauty and maturity – that I was actually stepping right into the fifth decade of my life. Even at the peak of my glory, I was about to play on a stage to which I did not belong. When I was a child, I used to think forty was such a big number. I could not, for a long time, reconcile the concept of stepping into a half century, yet looking still young and vibrant. By then, I suspected the paradox of Time would herald each next decade faster, like the unexpected frost on the wine, leaving a noble rot on its over-ripened fruit.
I always liked autumn; it has been my favorite season of all so far. September, kissed by autumn's charm, was still innocent. Curious and indecisive, she followed her instinct into the fiery October. Their glory blazed, sparkled for a while and then dwindled. Passionate October was seduced by the cool, mysterious November.
There was a time when I hated winter. When memories of running between campuses in knee-deep snow or icy slush, or perhaps giving into the hopelessness of loving and losing on a winter's night return, I remember having a fondness for summer. Starkness underscored the hidden pains, and I must have looked only at the moon pining for some of its light as I felt for my way out of the dark. I'm learning that in order to move on, I need a lighter load.
I had a small epiphany one day, when I was watching “Grumpy Old Men” admiring the knitted winter hats worn by Ann-Margret and Daryl Hannah. The character of Walter Matthau is joyous when he catches his “damn beauty”, after years of pursuit, yet he can picture it only as a three-foot stuffed trophy on his wall – a display of his victory. Ann-Margret's character, Ariel, on the other hand objects vehemently.
“There can be no stuffing! This is a live creature, full of life and courage!”
Lately, I have been loving winter with all its snow, ice, and breath sucking, flesh-numbing cold. Perhaps because I started looking around more and seeing tufts of snow on dormant branches – a clear sky and millions of stars. I inhale frigid air and gather ice crystals in my palms into a snowball, then throw it up in the air. It brushes a pine branch, then on its descent cascades into infinite, sparkling tiny snowflakes. The sky is still filled with blinking stars. I covet the peace that surrounds me. And I accept winter into my life.
How about you?
Photos and Text by Füsun Atalay
Füsun Atalay ~ Copyright © Will of my Own - 2012