Winter of Life

November 29, 2008
“Now, for God’s sake, we’re going to listen to some decent music. None of this 20 cent stuff.”

With this undeniable mandate, my father leaned forward in the driver’s seat and turned off the blaring radio station. Outside the car windows, the wind was whipping through the trees around our house. It was a clear, beautiful, blue day; cold and powerful. I watched as slowly, he picked out a CD from the front seat’s drawer and deftly slipped it into the CD player. Warm, rich notes suddenly started to stream from the front of the car as a song by Beethoven, I couldn’t tell you which one of course, started to play.

He sat back in bliss for a few seconds before turning to me, his blue eyes sparkling, and saying “You see? Real music.”

I rolled my eyes back at him from the backseat. “Yeah, real music. Can we go now??” before turning back to my phone where I was playing an illuminating game of tetris.

He pushed the car into acceleration and slowly, we pulled out of our small driveway and started onto the road. He was a concentrated driver-never taking his eyes off the front window-but I could tell his real attention was still on the music which filled his ears with a golden light.

At a stop light, he turned back to me again with a bemused smile. “Now, where are we going again?”

“Oh for god’s sake Dad, I’ve told you about ten times. We’re going to Lulu’s house in Southhampton. It’s about a half an hour away and I’m going to see a movie with her.”

“Of course, of course. I can’t keep up with you these days,” he smiled again at me. “Now, isn’t this music glorious?”

I did not want to admit it. I have an unspoken rivalry with my father in the car. Sometimes, I win and we listen to the radio, driving along to the sweet melodic voices of Katy Perry and Akon. But, more often, he triumphs and I sit in the back, bored as I listen to yet another chorus of classical violins.

“Mmm,”, I replied and looked out the window. We were driving along the same road to get to the bridge. The trees alongside swayed in the wind, as if in a gentle dance. Flowers were just beginning to die in the new season. The sun was weak, but shining. It was a bit deceiving seeing the sun-it was so cold.

“It’s turning cold, isn’t it?” He said, following my gaze.

“Yes. I love the winter though, especially Christmas.” I replied. “Can you turn up the heat?”

“It’s supposed to snow today, actually.” He said, fiddling with the knob as we turned the corner onto the bridge.

I stared out the window, hoping it would. Snow makes everything happier, cleaner, easier to understand.

All of a sudden, a new song started to play. This one was different from the first. Loud, even the though the volume was the same. I felt it vibrating throughout the whole car. The notes swayed up and down. It was classical and magical.

“I like this one, Dad!” I had to swallow my pride and admit it-I couldn’t hold it in. “What’s it called?”

He didn’t reply. I looked up and caught his eyes in the mirror. I started, surprised. There were tears. Softly streaming down his lined face. He looked away.
I sat back and pretended I hadn’t seen anything. I just took in the music as much as I could- letting it flow through my veins. I didn’t understand why he was crying-I thought the song was rather happy.

We continued in this strange manner for quite a while. Eventually, the song started to finish and at the same time, I noticed we had arrived in Southhampton. The scenes of the town were different than the lugubrious ones of our tiny little car universe. Christmas lights were strung through the lamposts, shoppers created rainbows with their multicolored bags, smiles and laughs, restauranst packed to the brim with hungry stomachs.

He’s stopped crying now, I noticed in relief. I mustered up the courage to say something.

“um, you can drop me at the movie theatre, Dad. We’re a bit early but I’ll buy the tickets for Lulu and I.”

He nodded and eventually stopped in front of the large movie theatre. I was excited. I could already smell the popcorn. But, I felt weird leaving him like that. I unbuckled my seatbelt, opened the door, stepped out and reached over to the window to talk to him. I almost felt safer talking to him from out there.

“I love you, dad! Thanks so much for driving me. It was fun.” I say, sending him a beaming smile and hoping he’ll return it.”

With dry eyes now, he looked at me , turned down the music, and smiled a weak smile. “You see, Isabel, that song’s about growing old.” He laughed softly as I just stared at him. “I just hate it. Hate it. Anyways, have fun, darling”

I watched as his silver car vanished into the distance. Suddenly, I felt something sweetly soft on my arm. I looked up to the sky. It was snowing.

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