February is the worst month. February is the month that goes on forever. February is the month in which it seems least likely that winter could ever give way to spring. Surely winter goes on forever without end. Spring is a myth made up by silly people who still believe in miracles. The real state of the world is a grim dark February, without hope of escape.
That’s how it seems to me every year.
Every year I get so anxious and depressed in February.
I planned for this ahead of time. For the first year of my life I felt safe going into the winter. All the way back in April I had bought the Carnegie museum and zoo passes, so that no matter how poor we are in the leanest months I could drive into the city and look at the Monets and the Van Gogh. On days that I didn’t have the gas for a trip to the museum I could at least go on a cold weather hike over at Raccoon Creek. In December I had finally gotten up the courage to overcome my iatrophobia and turn myself in to a new doctor for a medication adjustment, and the doctor that was recommended to me was just across the river in Weirton. But then we had the meltdown in December, and the car is still undriveable. If the Lost Girl’s uncle ever gets here to look at it, he can tell me what it immediately needs– I assume at minimum the brakes, that exhaust fixed, and an engine harness, but it may be worse for all I know. And I have no way of buying those things. Winter is a tight time. So it sits there. I can’t get to the doctor or go look at Impressionists. My best laid plans were foiled. I have been sitting in my house without a trip out of town since Christmastime.
The winter brain worms have proceeded to nibble me like a rotten apple.
Last night it all came to a head. I hadn’t cried in quite some time, but I cried last night– a long, wet cry, not a good cry. Not a cry where you get your tears out and get it over with, but a cry that leaves you with sticky eyelashes. I cried until three-thirty in the morning, and then I couldn’t sleep, so I played mindless games on my phone until five and slept in.
Today was windy and freakishly warm for February. It felt just like spring– a false spring, I know, a spring that will break my heart next week or the week after, but a taste of spring. The birds were singing. People were outside, jogging and walking their dogs.
We needed a bag of coffee, and Michael had already volunteered to take Adrienne downtown to her martial arts class on the bus, so I walked to the shopping center by myself without my coat.
How many thousands of times have I walked that road through the grim streets of LaBelle, up through Brady Estates, cutting through the Walgreen’s parking lot and down to the stoplight to Hollywood Plaza?
How many times can one uninteresting neurotic woman write about her uninteresting walks around a neighborhood she hates with all her heart?
All the snow was melted and the puddles nearly dry. I didn’t have to get off the sidewalk and walk in the middle of the one-way streets to keep from tripping. It was easy to walk.
When it gets this warm in the real spring, in late March, there will be buds on the trees and the grass will be green. But for now, there’s nothing on the trees, and the grass is brown. Still, the sun felt like the real sun.
When it gets this warm in the real spring, in April, we can drive down to Columbus to see Adrienne’s adopted aunts. Maybe we’ll go to Columbus when the daffodils are all blooming in the Park of Roses. Maybe we’ll go at the very end of April and celebrate Beltane in their magical yard on the first of May.
When it gets this warm in the real spring, in May, I will be planting my seedlings in the Community Garden. I’ll make a magic mound of compost for the Three Sisters and hide my corn in a circle. I’ll make a much larger circle in the rocky ground for my beautiful sunflower room, and the whole neighborhood will wonder what it is for weeks and weeks before they realize it’s sunflowers. Then they’ll be surprised again as the sunflowers bloom not just yellow but a whole riot of oranges and reds.
In summer we’ll go swimming in the lake and at the pool, and then I’ll be harvesting tomatoes.
I can get through February.
I have always gotten through February.
It has never been easy to get through February, but February always ends.
Soon the dark time will be over, and it will really be spring.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.