Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter Doldrums

The problem with winter is it's cold. And dark. It snows. Your skin gets dry and cracks around your knuckles. Hair darkens. Skin pales.
The problem with winter is you're not on the open road, driving home from a summer vacation. Winter can't produce a memory as palpable as this: suntanned bare feet on the dashboard, Good 'n Plenty and lukewarm Lemon Propel rattling in the console, singing along out loud to James Taylor or Counting Crows or Tom Petty. You gaze out of the insect-splattered windshield while I make tiny Xs over the mosquito bites on my legs. My body is exhausted, but in that good, worn, tired way that only comes from a day spent in the water. There is an irritating tightness on my shoulders from sunburn and the slight indentation of swimsuit straps. The landscape is mountainous and arid and empty, the sky impossibly high and open, and we fill the time with idle games of 20 Questions and I'm Going to Grandmother's House. We've forgotten what the N item on our list is, but are certain of Mongoose and Lima Beans.
We stop at a convenience store as the sky bruises into a purplish darkness. The air smells of gasoline and fried food and is just cool enough to raise goosebumps on bare arms and legs. Our flip-flops smack against the blacktop and make dirty half moons on the store's just mopped tile. Ice cubes thunk and clunk into 64 oz plastic cups and the refrigerated cases buzz and the till bings open and shut. The sounds are familiar and oddly comforting. Restrooms are bravely visited, snacks are selected, and then florescent lights are replaced with headlights on the highway.
We are quiet in the car now, the yellow and white lines of the road in stark contrast to our wandering, scattered, patternless thoughts.
That's the problem with winter: you're not on the open road, driving home from summer vacation, the freedom of your undecided life ahead tempered by the safety of the straight, even road vanishing into the darkening horizon.


Marci said...

You made me feel homesick for summer! Do you remember when we went to Lake Powell? Those were the days!

Kristen said...

Kim! Where have you been? Are you stuck there in Indiana? Are the winters that much worse than Utahs? Out here in VA we had 70 degrees one day and then the next week we had 2 ice storms. Kinda crazy. Come see me at

janel said...

You know it's been winter too long when descriptions of mosquito bites and gasoline/fried food smells sound enticing. Or someone is just a very good writer (YOU!). And it does need to be summer very soon.

kdudley said...

I love your writing, you are so incredibly talented! This post took me back to lazy summer vacations to Lake Powell. I laughed out loud at a few of your memories becuase they rang so true with mine. How little did I know those Utah summers wouldn't last forever. Now I get to look forward to sticky humidity acompanied with unbarable temperatures, lounging around our apartment steps with my boys! But somehow I'd much rather take hot humid days over cold gray ones. Hang in there!

Stacy & Mike said...

What you just so perfectly and eloqently described could be yours 7 months out of the year. Get Bubba to apply here! You needSt. George and St. George (us) needs you!
ps. e-mail me your phone number again. I need to talk to you via phone!

jdm said...

WHO ARE YOU!!!?? Why don't you write a book?! You would make the top 10 in a minute! Kim I can't believe that I haven't read this post until now. I felt so many great memories while I read that. Few writers have made me reflect or actually smile while reading!

jdm said...

Kim I put a link to your blog in my post today. In fact my whole post is just telling people to come and read this post. Is that ok?

meagan said...

I am a friend of Matt and Jenny Meese and looked on their link to your blog and I must say that you write beautifully, eloquently, and also vividly. I pictured everything you wrote and I think that the beauty in your writing isn't only that those were your memories, but also mine and everyone else that read it.