I woke up early this morning and rolled over to the window. I sat up quickly, wide eyed.
“Gabriel! It’s snowing!” I pushed him awake and flattened my nose and hands against the frosty glass. He chuckled groggily and pulled me back into bed. I drifted in and out of sleep, warm under the covers in my husband’s arms; occasionally peeking to see the small snowflakes cheerily dancing passed the window.
I felt warm, safe and normal.
With three older, talented and beautiful sisters “growing up” was of high importance to me. I always acted old for my age and matured very quickly. But every year, snow changes that. With the first snowfall I am childlike with wonder. Gabriel and I were in bed last night when I saw the first few flakes fall. I was out of bed and pulling on socks and shoes in seconds. We ran outside and caught snowflakes on our tongues and made silly footprint patterns on the fresh white street. I giggled, ran, shuffled my feet and kissed my husband as our curly hair dampened under the fall. I felt like a child, but not in the scared, small way that I have felt since being raped. Snow makes me feel innocent. For the few minutes we played outside, I felt normal and more whole than I have felt in months.
Gabriel and I have been traveling for the holidays and will continue to do so for the next month. We were in Northern Tennessee for Thanksgiving, now we’re in his hometown in Minnesota and next weekend we will be in Chicago for the first time since I was raped. The holiday’s have always produced a fair amount of anxiety for me—family time, traveling, expectations…I usually escaped into a book when I needed a breather. This year is different. This is Gabriel and I’s first holiday season together and there have been sweeter, more intimate and beautiful moments than ever before. But the more “normal”, or sweet or kind the moment is, the more distant I feel from it. Flashbacks distract my mind as we are sitting around the Christmas tree with family, drinking coffee. How can my life be so simple and peaceful when I now know how evil and dark life can be?
But the snow. The snow is simple, unassuming, quiet and beautiful. The snow is fresh and still as it tumbles passed windows, through the trees and settles amongst its brothers, making everything new. I’m giving myself permission to feel normal. I’m allowing myself to feel as innocent as I can, and as childlike as I want to. I don’t know how to reconcile the horror of my memories with the potential of my present, but I am learning to breathe through the paradox. I’m afraid to trust the joy that this morning has brought me, but I will at least sit in it while it’s here. I will sit and write, drinking hot coffee by a frosted window while Gabriel plays piano and sings Christmas music and I will be grateful.