Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Voyeurism

The recent cold snap in Los Angeles has uncovered a few bundled Christmas memories; easily forgotten with many years of 70 degree weather.

Stuffed into a Sears and Roebuck snow suit, I gaily climbed in for our nighttime Christmas lights car ride. First through town, with wreaths strung high, steeples aglow and Jesus framed in neon, then past the truck stop where scattered farm houses covered in blue snow beckoned me with glowing amber living rooms and the quick smear of colored lights on a Christmas tree.

Families settled in, stringing popcorn, paying bills, watching wheel of fortune.

I carried my seasonal voyeurism to Milwaukee, where wool and fur muffled carols and bitter wind denied normal sight. I braved walking home in old seal skin coats I sewed up with dental floss, air tight, and just like new. Bus rides noisy and too bright to enjoy looking into the lives of others.

Chicago where I huddled against the brittle plastic window of an L Train wondering what was being cooked in the much to close to the train track kitchen of a three story walk up. Who was home for dinner; were they happy and did they speak of love as they cleared the table?

Cleveland covered with treacherous pot holes and broken streets under deceptive blankets of snow. No time to look into anyone’s windows as I steered to defend my life, my first car, on guard until I was in the safety of the rotunda where I worked.

New York at Christmas was a maize of steps, dragging body and bags up and down to trains with no views, until I could rest on the slushy streets of Brooklyn Heights. A coat on sale at Macy's rivaled my old seal skins; my defiance of winter.
The brownstones bore no spirit, so I chose the bustle and the smiles of the Garden of Eden grocery store to soften my face and commune.
The blue snow of the farmland memories still touch my soul, but I am in my home now and I have found other ways to keep warm on the longest night the year. I still drive to see the lights, but I need not look into the lives of others, unless I am invited.