In January, the coldest days occur when the entire blue sky extends without a cloud. My father, who admires the stars, told me that without clouds, any warmth on Earth escapes.
I abhor these January days with cold that hurts. The winter blues for me are real. Doctors say this seasonal sadness originates from lack of sunlight or serotonin, that chemical responsible for an elevated mood.
This winter darkness drains me until I feel like that pen we try to make write by scribbling in circles. Despite our efforts, despite how hard we push the pen onto the paper, nothing happens. The blank circles scar the paper, sometimes tear it.
The only thing I love about winter is the color of the sky on frigid days. Empty, limitless, and smooth as ice, the sky is as blue as a summer snow cone.
Blue remains my favorite color.
When I was a kid, I preferred black, the black of a night sky that swallowed light. I preferred black shirts, black pants, black ties, black shoes, black socks.
My father, when I was little, told me navy blue is the most elegant color a man can wear. In second grade, I owned a navy blue suit. I hated it. When I became a teenager who worked, I bought myself a trendy black suit.
My father who worked as a mechanic for decades wore blue work shirts the shade of a dusty blue and dark blue work pants when he fixed cars. After work in the garage, he sang norteñas. One classic song sings of blue skies: "Cielo Azul, Cielo Nublado."
My father praised my blue honor roll ribbons but criticized my signature when I wrote in cursive. My signature of the English version of our name did not have the swirls and even lines he guaranteed each time he signed the Spanish version of our name. In third grade, my signature appeared uneven, as if a different person made each letter. The "R" rose awkwardly above the "a" and "y" as I tried to mimic my father's perfect signature in the shortened version of my name. My father raised his voice at me.
Today, my signature still unfurls inconsistently. Although my father takes pride in my writing, he’d probably still criticize my name in cursive. It’s been decades since he’s seen my signature in ink.
When I entered college, my mom worked in an office supply warehouse. She brought home pens, some elegant and smooth as an icicle, others simple made out of plastic the color of dust or dirty snow. I took the pens with blue ink--always. If they were fancy, I'd save them in a shoebox for fear of losing something valuable, something useful that I, ironically, did not use. My mom likes blue things, too, like blue-speckled metal cooking spoons and Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou.” Linda Ronstadt - Blue Bayou
The winter blues for me come and go like sporadic sunshine. When I feel like the seasonal sadness begins to soak into me the way ink from a broken pen stains a clean shirt, I grab a light blue shirt from a hanger and iron it with starch until it's as smooth as the blue winter sky.
Or I seize my confident navy blue blazer and sweep the lint away so the white specks, like stars in a night sky, disappear. In my blazer's pocket, I tuck away a pocket square, something as blue as an ocean's summer tidal wave.
Driving in my gray sedan I wish were navy blue, I listen to good music, like a classic cumbia from La Sonora Santanera's Album Azul:
Other times, I write--always with blue ink. On my computer screen, I set the font color to blue. Black ink, black fonts remind me of permanent stains loaded with regret.
I write to fight the overflow of winter blues that have bombarded me on other years like some blue waterfall.
Through writing, I fight against the winter’s sadness with short and long inverted sentences, with punctuation symbols that intensify ideas, and with paragraphs that unexpectedly expand like the sharp-edged patterns atop thinly frozen ice.
In solitary winter moments of isolation or contemplation when I unexpectedly find inspiration to create, I find happiness during this season that I ultimately hate.
I search for happiness in winter deliberately. Many times this season, I find it unexpectedly, sometimes, somewhere out of the blue.
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