I tug on my jacket and pull my beanie further down on my head as I continue to brace myself against the mercilessly frigid onslaught. I say a silent ‘fuck you’ to whichever administrator is responsible for this currently fucked up parking situation.
Fuck, it’s cold.
I realize that I say ‘fuck’ a lot when I feel like my blood is turning to ice.
It’s my fourth winter in Milwaukee, and I’m honestly not sure I’ll ever get used to how cold it gets here. And to think I used to complain about winter in Manchester as a kid. What a joke. That was nothing compared to this. Even my winters in New York never got as bad as it does here.
I pull the sides of my brown padded jacket closer together as if doing so will make me feel any less cold. I knew I should have worn a third layer underneath before I left my apartment. Once again, I grossly underestimated just how cold it can get here.
The jacket by itself isn’t nearly as insulating as it looks. Despite its deceptive size, it’s not very practical, big for no reason. I wish I had known that before I wasted almost sixty bucks on the damn thing.
Another blast of wind accompanied by snow flurries washes over me, and all I can do is groan in despair.
“Holy hell,” I mutter. I silently curse for the umpteenth time, wishing like hell that I didn’t have to head to vocal practice so damn early, especially when most of the campus is still sound asleep. What I wouldn’t give to be cozied up in my bed right now.
Fuck Monday mornings, for real.
My teeth start to chatter uncontrollably, and most of my nose has already gone numb. I have to keep bringing my hands up to my mouth and blowing between my leather gloves to bring some of the feeling back into my face.
My glasses keep fogging up every fifteen seconds, and I have to struggle to see where my feet keep landing. It doesn’t help my poor eyesight that the campus street lights are dim as hell.
What exactly are all the campus fee charges being spent on?
I walk as carefully as I can, all the while trying to maintain my speed. I come close to falling twice, but manage to regain my composure each time.
“Good reflexes. Just like your mother,” my grandma would say.
My chest tightens as soon as both women come to mind. I feel a bout of sadness creep up on me as I think of the woman who brought me into the world.
As I continue to dodge muddy mounds and slippery black ice, I idly remember the very first time I was allowed to play in the snow.
I was five and still living in Manchester. It was the first time I’d ever seen snow in real life, and I was so eager and excited to go out and play in all that immaculate goodness.
My mom had tried to persuade me not to, but of course, like any curious and eager child, I wasn’t hearing any of it. Boy, should I have listened to her.
My so-called snow play session ended with me crying hysterically with snot all over my face because my hands were throbbing in excruciating pain.
Apparently, yours truly thought she was a mini Einstein and figured it would be a brilliant idea to try to build a snowman with her gloves off. I think my mom let me have my way to teach me a lesson. That shit had seriously hurt. Needless to say, that was the very last time I ever did that.
I wish I could also say that that was the last time I did something unbelievably stupid.
Yet another wave of frigid air quickly brings my focus back to the present, actively pushing the memories aside. I can’t help but be grateful. I don’t like how I feel when I think of my mother, and I don’t want to start my day off feeling any more crappy than I already do.
I hum Hayley Westenra’s ‘Across the Universe of Time’ to keep my mind off both my mother and the numbing cold, as well as to hear something other than the sound of my chattering teeth. It’s a song I love a lot, and it’s also the song I chose to sing for my very first solo performance last year.
I’m still amazed at all the praise and acknowledgment I got from both the audience and the entire music faculty for it. I was even asked for an encore.
Needless to say, that performance had done wonders for my ego, removing so many doubts I had at the time and increasing my love for vocal music even more. That moment also felt like a confirmation that I had indeed made the right decision coming back to college, and that I really have a shot at a successful career in music after all.
I finally reach West Campus, and I thank the non-existent stars for getting here in one piece, even though I could barely see a thing on my way here.
I head past the English, Film, and Art buildings like I always do. A minute later, I’m swiping my ID card in the slot at the main entrance to the music building. I eagerly make my way inside, happy to put an end to this annoying, frost-bitten journey.