They’re standing on the corner of Spring and Bowery, two figures face-to-face, surrounded by piles of dirty snow. Bound in layers of thermals and sweaters and jackets, I think that they must both be wearing everything they own, as they struggle to bring their bloated, Michelin Man arms close to their bodies. Their breath, exiting their bodies, condenses immediately, and from where I am watching they seem to be speaking not in words but in puffs of smoke.
Awkwardly, they move to embrace–his arms pressing against her sides, but unable to bend at the elbows for layers of clothes, they’re stiff instead, forming an unfinished triangle around her. She giggles as their sumo bellies knock together, and they try to put closeness where closeness is impossible. Later, they will peel off these layers and their naked bodies, pressing together at last, will feel foreign and new, after a day of being kept so separate from each other. Right now though, it’s as though their skin isn’t real–you could push them over and they’d roll away, balloons made of wool and polyester and cotton.
Their noses are red and their cheeks are flushed as their breathy sighs coalesce into one, and they press their frosted lips against each other’s. I imagine the running snot at their upper lips that they don’t care about–can’t care about, for gloved hands don’t wipe up so much as mush around–and the warmth they feel from the other’s tongue. Bumping together ungracefully, searching for the other’s body underneath the pile of laundry, their fumbling is the magnum opus of New York’s winter ballet.
Every winter, I watch them. I watch them as they try to find ways to connect, to defy the ample layers enveloping their bodies to find intimacy. I watch them as they try not to slip on the icy ground as they kiss, and as they hail cabs with great relief. I watch them as they watch each other, the taste of one another’s mucus fresh on their lips, wondering if they are wondering, “how is it possible to love someone so much?”
I wonder if this year is my year. If this winter a gloved hand on the end of a shivering arm will run itself across my face and beam down at me while we form clouds that swim around our heads. If, when snowflakes begin to drop out of the sky and I have to blink them out of my eyelashes, someone will be holding my hand to make sure I don’t fall over. If there will be a girl nearby, watching me, like a roll of bubble wrap in my wide, soft cocoon, attempting to hug someone on the street as I fall in love.