Dread and Malaise (February)

Many people experience some kind of post holiday season depression in January, once all the glitz and glow of the tinsel and lights disappears, but because my birthday is at the end of January, that feeling doesn’t hit me until the next month begins. This year I woke up to go to work on February 1st to find that it had snowed overnight. It wasn’t much, more sad sloppy slush than anything meaningful, but as I cleaned off my car I thought, “Gee, February is already trying to be the worst month of the year again, hmm?” You see, February and I simply do not get along.

(Cloudy, light polluted night sky seen from my window.)

I am a winter baby, but I have little love for the season, and the worst of it always seems to hit in February. If August is jade, and November is topaz, then February is just a rough chunk of plain gray stone. It’s the time of polar vortexes and not remembering the last time I saw the sun. It gets brighter every day so by the end of the month I’m no longer commuting home in the dark, but the additional light only reveals how gray everything is. The salt used to de-ice the roads bleaches the pavement and sits in sad little strips along the curbs. The naked tree branches look stark against the sky, forming a spiked iron fence that encircles my world. If nothing else I’ve said so far has failed to make the case for how wretched February truly is, please remember that I live in a country that starts this month asking a glorified rodent to tell us what the weather will be, even though it doesn’t actually affect anything. I feel uneasy this time of year, doing my best to make it through my life day by day until color floods the world again.

However, this February doesn’t look quite like that, and it’s causing me a new kind of malaise. Except for that smudge of slush on February 1st and a few scattered flurries, it’s been much too warm for snow. I think I’ve only had to defrost my car in the morning once. We’ve had multiple days that were in the mid to high 60s (15ish, for my metric friends), including Valentine’s Day. The flowering trees in my office’s parking lot started to bloom two months early before a cold weekend put the brakes back on and there are currently irises in my front yard. I have no love for shoveling snow, but I still know that I’m supposed to be doing it right about now. If you’re new here, I live in New Jersey. This is all very incorrect.

(One of the improperly blooming trees.)

I have to bury my dread and place stones on the grave to prevent it from resurfacing or it will fill my pockets with those rocks and drag me down. After all, despite the warmth and corresponding lack of ice, the days are still overwhelmingly overcast, the night skies blanketed with clouds set aglow by the light pollution. There have been bright spots here and there (the fun distraction of another Minecraft phase, a weekend in Massachusetts visiting friends, happy hour with colleagues) but they are merely sparks in the winter, gleams in the gray. One day I said to my mom, “After this weird month, we’re going to have one of those really messy, snowy Marches or full summer will be here in April.” I long for light and warmth and an end to these colorless days, but not at such a high cost.

February, we aren’t friends, but you’re not yourself this year and I’m concerned.