Hibernation

By Meg Zulch

Courtesy of Meg Zulch

Courtesy of Meg Zulch

I always whine relentlessly about how much I dread the approach of winter. The cold weather is treacherous, my skin gets flaky as hell, and every walk to class is like a balancing act between black ice and freshly fallen snow. There are certainly downfalls to these frosty months, as they cause Seasonal Affective Disorder from the sunless gray days, and intense cabin fever thanks to arctic temperatures. But secretly, I revel in all of this. My like-minded sister and I agree, it can feel great to have an excuse to just be your sad self. Winter calls my name.

Like the bears and the squirrels around this time, I too hibernate. I choose a comfort food of choice to buy in bulk whenever I can, a couple of shows I want to marathon on Netflix, and an album to depressedly indulge in as I cry under all my blankets. Every other time of the year, I do everything I can to resist my natural urge to be depressed. Winter, in all its greyness and frigidity, encourages me to finally embrace this sadness, and let it come in waves. And as someone who loves to hold things in, this is so relieving. Winter is my detox.

Albums like Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time, Mitski’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek, and EVERY SONG BY ADELE is on repeat during this season. In this warm and secluded space, I feel completely free to release the emotions from the past year (and the emotions these particular albums bring up for me) as I enthusiastically drench my pillows in tears. Winter is not a season for makeup.

I often don’t make time for self care, or allot time to veg out and do things for pleasure. The conditions of winter (as well as my resulting sadness) encourages me to treat myself and truly give myself the time that I need to zone out, laugh and relax. I spend hours at a time excitedly devouring new TV shows, like Master Of None and Jessica Jones. And I lose myself in the stories of familiar characters like Nancy Bowen from Weeds or Hannah Horvath in Girls. Winter is one long flickering glow of a laptop screen, dancing in my smiling eyes.

During my hibernation, I eat incredibly well and have long and lovely sleeps. Sometimes, I even take naps. I lay in my dark room for hours, drinking one cup of tea after another as I celebrate my solitude. I write and I write, the words just flow out of me. Winter is a long hug, toasty and safe.

When I awaken in the spring, as the ground thaws and the leaves return, I remove my sheets for cleaning, smiling as I inhale the lived-in smell in their fibers. I feel clear, awake, and new. After all those months of indulgence, it feels strange to re-emerge at first, my body still heavy with sadness and solitude. But I sigh with relief when I release these “burdens,” running free and light in the sun, as I so quickly forget how dearly I once held my sadness, my mind, myself, just moments before. Winter reminds me of everything I want to forget.