The thermometer in The Brick tells me it’s sitting firmly at 32 degrees, just barely freezing, and there are speckles of frost on the grass of my front lawn, reflecting the moonlight which is a reflection itself, all of which corroborates the story. I’m not sure why I’m awake right now.
Well, I do know why. I know that I wanted to go out to the pub down the street to enjoy a celebratory drink, since the semester is ending. By all appearances, it’s the last semester I will actually be teaching, so I might as well celebrate, right? Except it’s a Tuesday, so none of my friends want to go with me and it’s slow and barren at the bar itself. So it’s me, a friend, and several strangers who by the end of the night will at least be acquaintances. I’m drinking a Guinness and wishing so badly it was a Kilkenny, but we don’t get that around here.
The semester isn’t quite over, and I do have to be at work in the morning, but that doesn’t stop me from sitting there for an hour and a half longer than I initially planned. After all, one of the guys who runs the place wanted to be my friend tonight, so I’m going to want to stick around for this. I want to learn about how this place came to be. He wants to laugh at the stupid comments I make. That’s why we’re here, right? To make friends?
It’s not a true celebration, and I’m not sure I would want it to be. This somehow seems more fitting. I’m jumping the gun anyway, celebrating the end of the semester that still has a week to go. So it should rightfully be a low-key scenario. I just wanted to break my “no beer during the week” rule for one night to commemorate what was about to happen, not to throw a raucous party. Plus, a friend wanted me to stop by, and that’s why I’m here, right? To be a friend?
So yeah, like a fool, I’ve stayed up too late on a weeknight. Now even later so I can type words onto a blank webpage that you will later read. Does that ever cross your mind, as you read these words? That at one point, I decided it was worth my time to sit down, cut open a vein, and pour some part of myself out onto the keyboard? It’s weird for me to think about it right now. It’s weird for me to even try to wrap my mind around the writing process. How I could string together a few letters and sentences and ideas and themes until it’s something I would even want to hit “publish” on and allow you to see? But that’s why I’m here, right? To analyze the world through the written word and allow you to follow along?
I’m not sure if the gay guy next to me is serious or not. So far, he hasn’t been serious about anything he’s said. It’s all been some sort of derogatory joke directed at the friend I came here with. But when I mention something about the last girl I dated he acts upset that he can’t flirt with me now. I’m sure it’s at least partially a joke, judging by how quickly he pulled the line out, but it’s still funny enough to have that sort of attention, I guess. Whatever I can do to make me seem most like the type of person that people can be comfortable around. That’s why I’m here, right? To make those around me feel at home?
Home. Eventually, I pull back up to my home. And there’s the slightly frozen lawn. The thermometer in my vehicle tells me that it’s a little chilly out there, and the desire that starts to overwhelm me. The desire to stand there, in the cold and on top of the frost, staring at the reflections from the ground that are ironically just reflecting a light that is a reflection to begin with. And I want it to consume me. It’s a celebratory night, and I want to celebrate in the cold and the silence. I want to soak it all in so that it contradicts the burning urge that creeps up into my soul and tells me to drop to my knees and cry out at the top of my lungs. I should celebrate the end of the semester, and in the process, I guess I should celebrate the immense uncertainty that lies directly ahead of me. Embrace it all. Fight that desire that strikes me every day and tells me to jump in the car and just drive far, far away from it all. I should at this moment make the choice to walk to the door, get inside, climb in bed, and wake up in time for the 8 o’clock class I almost dread that’s coming for me. To make the choice of putting aside the crappiness each day brings under the believe that the next one will bring something new and hopefully something better. I mean, that’s why I’m here, right? To stand strong in the frozen silence, ready to be all and bear all I can for those who need it?
So every day, I walk back out of that door. I go to the school, or the friend’s house, or the pub down the street, or wherever I am needed because it is there that I am needed. My idea of a celebration is to bring as little attention to myself as possible, instead just being with those who want me to be around. I suppose it’s so I can then write a melodramatic blog post about it. But I will celebrate. In my heart, whatever bit of it is still beating after a year that has certainly felt like a beating, I will celebrate it. I will celebrate it all.
At the end of it all, I will stand there, basking in the frozen silence, soaking it all in. The pain, the joy, the mourning, and the celebration. I will be still and remember this frozen silence. This is where I belong.
This is why we’re here. We are but specks of frost on a barely frozen night, resting silently and reflecting something greater.