It had been snowing for two weeks straight by then – by the time I realized I loved you. You see, among the warm colors of October and the piles of leaves on the front porch of our houses, I wanted to love you, but not in a way that meant kissing you – to fall around and gently graze your cheek the way the leaves fell in your lap over picnic lunches. I wanted to support and hold you the way a parent caressed a child’s cheek in the dark after they were asleep, I reasoned. I still thought the warmth came from my cashmere coat.
It was a month after our first snowstorm of the season – the morning before Thanksgiving – that I opened my eyes and saw that you were the kingdom I held in my arms. It was the snow beating hard on my window and the underside of the roof baring its icicles against the cold that seemed to evoke the way your face scrunched up when opening the door to face the icy winds for the first time every morning.
I think it was then that I became acutely aware that my gloved fingers felt cold when the wind blew into the spaces between them where your fingers would have otherwise been. The snowflakes suspended in the glow of the street lamps sparkled with the mischievous glint in your eye when you told me you’d survived twenty winters without a down parka. The trees looked taller, stronger – but also lonelier without their blanket of leaves. And as snow traced white outlines around their black bodies, I thought of the first time my fingers traced paths around your freckles.
I don’t know how long I’d been feeling this desire to envelop you with everything I had, but I do know it was then – staring at the trees outside your house, and watching as snow came to rest with indiscernible thumps on large white blankets – that I came to the conclusion that you radiated heat in this historically harsh winter, and I wanted to spend as long as I could reflecting your light back at you.
And that was what I said to you, I think. At least, that’s how I remember it – I remember moving through the tunnels of snow to knock on your door. I remember standing on your porch and watching my breath come out in puffs, each time wishing that I’d brought hot cocoa, and I still remember the first flash of your red hair when the door cracked open.
I forget the rest.