When the North Winds Blow

Posted on 23 Sep 2010 in Breathe | 0 comments

Image by Idea go

There’s a chill in the air tonight. The north wind is blowing. It streams down across the harbour and rattles the wind chimes on the neighbour’s balcony. The thin strand of a leafy vine trails down from above, swirling in the air. The sounds on a night like tonight leave me homesick. Not for a place, but for a time. A time when I held Hershey’s chocolate syrup in one hand, a glass in the other. My mum or dad would help me pour the syrup into the glass, one finger, two fingers. Then, the addition of ice-cold milk. As it hit the chocolate, it would dislocate small strands that would slide up along the inside of the glass. Then, teaspoon in hand, we would stir together, scraping the spoon along the sides to catch every last bit of the darkness. It would swirl into a sweet, chocolate treat. Every time it rained.

I’m older now. And the wind is howling. The rain streams past the orange globes of light that illuminate the plate-glass wall of my living room. The wind means that the rain doesn’t fall down, but flurries against the light, like tiny insects striving to be free. The wind traps them. I hold a glass of wine instead of chocolate milk.

And I long for a different time.

A time when chocolate milk was enough.

But these days, when the north wind blows, I also remember a late night. I was a picture of perfection. Just-nineteen, glorious blonde hair streaming to my narrow waist. Standard costume of 12-hole-steel-toed Dr. Martens and a white, floor-length lace dress. I walked in on something I shouldn’t have. And I couldn’t really argue with it, or even feel it. But there it was. In the basement of a house haunted with the spirits of addicts and suicides. I stepped out of the darkness of that moment and into a piercingly bright night. It was past midnight. In that area, I shouldn’t have been out alone. But I walked into the street, crying. And I can remember praying, “God, if you cared about me, even a little, even at all, you would cry, too.”

And the north wind began to blow. And a drop of life fell onto my face. And then another. And the wind blew harder, and the sky shook with the fury of it all. I could feel myself crying, but the tears mingled with the tears of heaven, somehow washing the dirt and the shame and the fear away. And I threw my arms out to either side and caught the drops of heaven’s grief.

And so the north wind is blowing tonight. I’ll drive right past that street in a little more than two days. And my heart will break for the memories. But there still is a little girl inside who remembers a father who not only helped her stir up the darkness in a glass in order to make something sweet, but the father who cried for her in the middle of the night.

There’s a chill in the air tonight. And if I stand outside on my balcony, I can just about feel it…