by Vicki Lame
During the crystalline nights of winter, summer held an almost indecent promise. The kind of promise composed of hands resting lightly on bare shoulders, sliding off a thin slip of a strap from a cotton dress. A time of lying lazily in the grass hoping for a slight breeze to skim your face, of kisses in the kind of cold bars that had dark corners with wooden tables, and of picnics near-forgotten in a whiskey lemonade drenched haze. Afternoons of hazardously licking melting ice cream cones while riding bikes across bridges and nights of telling secrets on roof tops still steaming from the hot sun.
It was the kind of promise that keeps you sane, hopeful, and young.
But instead, summer became sad summer. The kind of a season where the thick, heavy air weighs you down—not with the heat from a storm about to break—but with the mistakes you’ve made, with harshly lingering regret. A time that feels full of significance you can’t come back from, of adulthood no longer pending but here. Gone is that childish wonder. Moments of almost incomprehensible glee find you fleetingly and slip quickly through your grasping fingers, disappearing.
Summer became a broken promise.
Now you sit, hours after midnight, chasing tumblers of whiskey with more whiskey, spinning sentences full of meaningful adjectives with your favorite companion in hyperbole. Each of you half in the moment, half inside your heads, claiming—wondering—if autumn turned to winter will hold a different promise you can reach for. If somehow once you stop running barefoot in the grass, unable to capture that same enthusiastic momentum you once had, you’ll be able to find some sense of peace in where you’ve stopped. That somehow months from now, your previous heartaches will be something contained only in memory instead of your everyday breath, constantly reminding you that your recovery time is no longer as fast.
But even to you that promise holds false.
You know winter holds gray days that take you to dark places, brief bits of laughter book-ended by melancholy. That you’ll find yourself silent, listening to the strains of the National on repeat, exile, vilify, wishing it was still summer because even if your heart was heavy, you felt light. That winter has stolen all the sunshine you once twirled beneath. And that snow will fall on your darkest day, burying you. But staring at that white perfection free of foot prints, you’ll smile. You’ll remember one magical night of stumbling, tumbling, falling tipsily through the drifts. And you’ll feel wistful for those icy days when the wind chills you to the bone and conversation brings you comforting warmth that no fire can provide.
Perhaps the promise of a promise is enough.