Tuesday, December 22, 2009

...on this winter's night with you

She and I never knew what we were supposed to be to one another.  We were friends from the first- meeting  through a common friend, finding each other in a common class, finding ourselves spending more and more time together.  We were easy friends- easy to talk with one another, easy to be quiet with one another. But it always felt like there was something else between us- deeper currents, maybe.  I never knew how I felt- when I finally did ask her out, she told me no- she didn't want to jeopardize our friendship.  Later, when she told me she felt something for me, she was half a world away.  Our relationship ebbed and flowed, sometimes one thing, sometimes another.  When she told me she was leaving, I found myself torn even more- I was by then in love with someone who loved me back- but she still held hold of part of me.  I said goodbye, for once with no other words to give her.  I remember listening to a tape she'd give to me, over and over.  We kept in touch through the mail, off and on, and I remember thinking, as I listened to that tape, that I knew how she truly felt.  I wrote her this long letter explaining how I felt, and how I knew how she felt.  Well, I was wrong.  I haven't heard from her since that last letter.  I think about her every so often- I wonder where she is, if she's happy, if she ever thinks of me... but I always think about her when I hear one particular song...

It was the middle of winter in State College.  We had made plans to go out that night, for dinner or something, and we found ourselves walking across campus.  It was later in the evening, and the snow was coming down- big fat flakes, drifting lazily down onto the walkways and grounds.  There was no wind, just the falling snow.  The whole campus was hushed, as though everyone had decided it was better to stay indoors. 

We walked across campus, just the two of us, and we talked.   We stopped to make snow angels- it was cold then, but we laughed so much it still felt warm.  We walked through campus, onto the streets of the homes near the university.  We walked under the streetlamps,the lights making halos of the falling snow.  Sometimes we walked arm in arm, sometimes we roamed back and forth across the streets, drifting in and out of each other's orbit.  We talked about things we'd never discussed before- some of it, I don't know if we'd ever talked about with anyone else.  I don't know if I'd ever felt closer to anyone before than I did that night.

I walked her back to her apartment.  We stood outside the door and kissed in the falling snow.  It wasn't a kiss of passion, or a kiss of love, or even just a kiss goodnight.  It felt like an unspoken acknowledgement that come what may, just this once, we both knew who we were to each other.  For a few short hours, we could be two people who had the whole world to themselves, and could just be with each other, on that winter's night.

The lamp is burnin' low upon my table top
The snow is softly fallin'
The air is still within the silence of my room
I hear your voice softly callin'

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
On this winter night with you

The smoke is rising in the shadows overhead
My glass is almost empty
I read again between the lines upon the page
The words of love you sent me

If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
On this winter night with you

The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are liftin'
The mornin' light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are driftin'

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
And to be once again with with you

To be once again with with you

--"Song for a Winter's Night", Sarah McLachlan