Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

Winter, Unsettled

Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Crystal Lake, Illinois

Early on, summer settled into a lull, offering few breaks from cool and haze. I recall a single storm — belligerent and whole, one for us to wait out, laying in a dark bed while the warm, heavy streams dropped as they felt necessary — and our relief when it passed. This is how we know we’re alive. The balance of the season was dull and as unwelcoming as it was unwelcome. Still, summer knew what it was.

The sky began to clear as I left work. This means one thing: a temperature drop. Forecasts call for single digits by the weekend. Yesterday the air pushed past 50, high winds turning loose snow. At dusk a strong thunderstrom drove through us, as though the season were fighting itself for control. Rain melted whatever the afternoon’s warmth had missed. This morning snow seemed to rise from the soaking ground. By noon we had again what we had lost, and more.

A friend two-hundred-fifty miles west sent warning: “Stay warm — it’s getting really cold here now.” I’ve known this cold, just weeks ago. No number of blankets are enough. Months now without the girl, what insulate me from the world beyond my apartment’s century-old walls are still enough: the bathwater in my skin, the beer in my gut, good light, and Elliott Smith. These, and the certainty that whatever the devil throws my way, and whatever more he takes from me, I know who I am and how I mean to be. Tonight these are enough.