I love winter. We don’t get snow in my part of California, but it still gets very cold. I own a snazzy collection of coats/fleece leggings and cashmere sweaters, so it is by far my favorite season. Plus, it is always fun to go four months without shaving your legs.
This morning is colder than usual. My breath is misting, there’s a fine layer of frost on the bedroom window and my Spinal column takes an extra minute to unfreeze before I can finally sit up. And then, slowly, everything falls apart. My neck hurts horribly (hello late 30s!), the toaster dies after burning one slice, my son has his 345th cold of the season.
And I feel so, so blue.
“Don’t cry! Don’t cry! Don’t you dare cry,” I whisper to myself. A quick glance at the phone app confirms I’m likely PMSing, but that doesn’t make the sadness go away. I snap at the kids who are bickering and pour out my 3rd cup of coffee. The kids resume their whining, and I look outside the window at the neighbor’s yard. Yup, their grass is literally greener than mine. Well, hell!
15 minutes later. Shoes on, pants on, underwear on (yes, we check that too and don’t ask me about that one awkward day last month). Jackets donned and hats placed on little heads. We go outside to the car, clenched jaws and gasping for breath. It is so white everywhere. A heavy fog has crept onto the valley overnight and the visibility is only
20 feet. “Oh, great!” I think, sourly. Now everybody will drive at a snail’s pace. Just great!
I belt the kids in and turn on the car heater. I’m peeking at the rearview mirror and that’s when I finally see it. Two rosy-cheeked children, looking around in awe. Unlike me, the fog is their friend. It promises them fantasy and wonder and magic. We drive slowly, the mist parting before the car and then zipping shut behind us. Reya mouths a big WOW. Nirav is tracing shapes in the condensation.
On a whim, I roll down my window. A little tongue of cold, cloudy air snakes in. My daughter giggles. My son tries to grab it. More giggles.
I smile and take a deep breath. “I love you, honey,”, I tell the obsessive woman inside my head. She’s trying to draw my attention to a pimple on our chin. Oh, did I know that I looked rather blotchy this fine morning?
So, I repeat. Loudly.
“I love you honey, but today I need a break from you.” She doesn’t respond, so I turn the key and lock her inside the dusty corners of my head.
“I love you too, Mommy”, Reya responds, dreamily. Now I’m chuckling.
We arrive at the elementary school and park. Nirav is still trying to grab clumps of fog. I sense little hands tugging at my sweater.
“What is it, Reya?”
“Mommy, you know why there are clouds on the road?”
“Why don’t you tell me, love?”
“Ghosts, mommy,” she tells me with utmost seriousness.
“Lots of ghosts, everywhere.”
“There are 100 ghosts in the air,” Nirav proclaims somberly, like some new age Baba.
I stare at them, curious, puzzled, confused. They stare back, self assured and unafraid of the “100 ghosts” floating around them.
You know those moments where you feel weak legged with pride and love. Amazed and humbled that you created these perfect, beautiful little beings. Some people get like that when their child is born/wins a prize/finally goes to sleep.
On that frosty sidewalk I stand, overwhelmed and teary because my kids said “Ghosts”. I think back to my childhood - the countless horror novels I read under covers, those tacky Ramsay brothers shows on Zee TV. My first Zombie comic, the last time I wrote a short story about Creatures in the dark.
You see, it’s not so much about the supernatural, as it is about letting your imagination fly free. And “Fog = Ghosts”? That’s the first step!
I bend down and hug my weird kids. Nirav protests, but gives in. Reya kisses me and laughs at the little puff of mist we conjure between our lips.
“Baby ghost!” she mumbles, delighted.
I wave goodbye and smile all the way home. Pulling into the driveway, I glance at the neighbor’s yard. Green. Brazenly, Obscenely green. Nothing like what God or nature intended.
“Fake grass,” I mutter and walk inside. The grouch deep within me sleeps. I give her an extra pillow, smooth her creased forehead. “Tomorrow, we can talk”, I promise her.
Grabbing a book, I settle into the loveseat by the big bay window. The white, magical world outside moves, ever so slightly. Murky shapes, ghostly forms. Anything could be out there. I sigh happily and dive into my horror novel.
’ love winter!
1. No, I am not high on something (drug/plant/alcohol)
.Give yourself permission to have off days. But also allow yourself to have awesome ones!
3. Embrace your kids and their own brand of weirdness. Chances are, they inherited it from you!