Winter is My Boyfriend.
Spent the whole day listening to Yamashirogumi Geinoh’s albums. The earth cannot tilt away from the sun fast enough. I’m aching for winter, for the understanding, compassionate cold to drive everyone inside and leave me my empty streets and music.
Winter is my boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend; a GOOD one. He does everything for me I imagine boyfriends are supposed to do, but none of the things my friends complain about.
Winter makes me feel sexy; he makes me feel more beautiful than any living person has ever managed to. He gets me into my favourite clothes, the ones that make me feel most myself. When I pass a dark window in winter, I see myself in my natural habitat.
Winter knows how to light me; in the summer, my impenetrable North-Sea pallor looks sickly and unfed. But in winter, my skin becomes marble. My cheeks flush at the slightest provocation. My lips always wants to be slightly parted in winter so I can feel the moisture inside them freeze for an instant.
Winter excites me the way a boyfriend presumably would. When I hear wind shaking my bedroom window, I feel butterflies in my stomach. I never pay more attention to applying lipstick than after I’ve heard a cold wind scratching at my window. I emerge into frozen nights in knee socks and skirts so that as I pass by human men, solid and interchangeable as boulders, I think of how with all their blood and nerve and muscle, they will never brush a cold finger between my knees as I race down the sidewalk.
No human man could caress me this intimately unless I stopped and held still for him. Winter does not need me to hold still. Winter does not ask me to slow down. Winter has never once asked me if we can “just stroll”. The faster I walk, the sharper his touch becomes; he slides an ice-palm up my thigh as I charge across an intersection. In eight sets of headlights, it’s like being given oral sex on a professionally lit stage– except the audience doesn’t know what they’re seeing. I pass by too quickly for anyone to notice me; if they did, would they wonder why I have a mid-fuck look on my face walking through the financial district at night? Winter is my secret. He’s the lover who can arouse me from across a crowded room and never raise suspicion. He is the minotaur who picks up my scent and follows me, herds me, to the centre of the maze. Winter knows what I like.
Who could ever mistake coldness for indifference? In the cold I have found the sharpness of touch, the thrill of a glance. The tactile sensation of being in love is almost identical to the sensation of being in the deep, wild winter. The chills, the shivers, the rushes of blood to cheeks and loins that love incites– winter draws an identical biological response from us all, but so few people recognize the similarity. What can a summer sun do but pacify and bake a body into indolent lethargy? Languidity can be sensual, but heat itself does not excite my body unless it’s coming from another body– the cold makes me alert, focused, driven to find satisfaction. Winter makes me hungry; rather, winter freezes away the illusion that I’ve ever been fully satisfied and demands I plough ravenous through gusts of snow to sate myself.
I hear boyfriends are supposed to make you feel warm and safe, but I have a bed for that. I have flannel pyjamas that can do that. I’m all too adept at making a cup of tea that can do that in one sip. I’ve never craved a boyfriend for security; the notion perplexes me. Aren’t boyfriends the opposite of security? I suppose if I think about it, men have a traditional role in history as the means for a woman’s security. You get yourself a man, and you get a house, money, and the right to reserve your body for just one guy.
But I’ve never looked at a man and seen security. If I notice them at all (interchangeable boulders need not apply) I either see danger, desire, or indifference. I have, in several instances, encountered the three all in one body. This is a wretched combination. And when these dangerous, desirous, indifferent boys begin to frustrate me, winter is there, simple yet mysterious, ready to make me feel like a woman the way I won’t permit a man to. Winter will simulate the exact physical experience of seeing one of those boys look at me, touch my hands, smile knowingly. The shivers winter sends through me are neurologically and physiologically identical to the shivers that a few dangerous, desirous, indifferent words can create. But winter ultimate poses a very different, more exciting, and yet more manageable threat to me than these dangerous, desirous, indifferent boys: winter can kill me if I stay out in it too long.
Winter can kill me; literally kill me. There’s something extremely satisfying in the literalism of that threat after one has spent too many nights contemplating the figurative injuries these dangerous boys have inflicted. A human man (one in 100,000, perhaps) can make me feel like I’m dying. A poison word, a sneering shrug, a month of silence– these won’t kill me outright, which makes them terribly annoying. They’re like cramps; I know I won’t die from them. I know in a day they won’t hurt anymore. But while they’re happening, I feel like they’re killing me.
And so when I’ve been out in -25 degree weather for an hour too long and my fingers are on the border between red and blue, and I’m starting to get that I’m-not-even-that-cold-I’m-just-sleepy feeling and I know this is the early sign of an icy death, THEN I’m satisfied. There’s nothing like the threat of literal danger to snap you out of the illusion of figurative ones.
And this is how winter is the best boyfriend I could have: he gives me the perspective that returns me to my best self. He won’t let me wallow in self-pity; he has no patience for it. No one gets lost on Everest and starts wondering if they shouldn’t have said that one bitter thing last year. They’re focused on survival. Winter can kill me; he has that power. But instead, he uses this power to remind me of how how much I love to be alive.
As I get to that liminal point, on the threshold between safety and hypothermia, I have no time to think about foolish things I’ve said and done, or callous words that seemed to hurt. When winter makes my toes hurt, I realize how petty these figurative hurts are. My bruised emotions heal very quickly when the threat of actual frostbite is around the corner. And with all this perspective and renewal comes the the physiological sensation of love. As he reminds me of how strong I am and how exciting life is, he creates romantic thrills across my skin. What else could I ask for in a boyfriend? What human man would have the time or incentive to do the same?
As I realized earlier in the body of this text, boyfriends and husbands have historically represented security to a woman. I suppose this is why I find the notion of one so unappealing. How could I ever be satisfied with security when a mighty lover like winter has allowed me to be as fast, as wild, as ravenous as I want and been able to excite me as I run? How could I ever be satisfied with that cloying mundanity women seem to find so appealing when I know what it is to jump and scream in gusts of snow and feel like in doing so I’m copulating with the most powerful lover on the planet?
I have met human men who could make me as excited as winter– but they always ask me to slow down. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Look them in the eye. And the momentum slows; the suspense ebbs. Give me the man who will know I like him without demanding I say it out loud. The one who won’t try to civilize or normalize me. Who won’t mistake my waywardness for inconstancy; if I want you, I will want only you while we’re together. But when I need time to think, read, write, walk and flirt with winter, don’t take it to mean you aren’t as important to me as all those things.
Such a man likely does not exist; this thought can make me feel morose, but then I remember I’ll always have winter. Men will come and go, misunderstand me, confuse me, ignore me, demand the truth from me, but winter asks nothing in return but what I want to give him naturally: the flush of blood, the thrill of the icy challenge, and a solitary, renewing communion.