It’s slow, the way he doesn’t notice his fingers getting cold. It’s so gradual that by the time it actually happens, and they are cold, they are really cold. He rubs them together, right hand over left, left hand over right, back again. Blowing over them with damp breath. It helps for a moment, but only so. He is now fully aware that his fingers are cold, and it only draws to surface the fact that other things are cold as well, like the tip of the nose. He cups his hands over it to warm, but it does no good. The cold fingers won’t warm the cold nose.
His nose is a problem. He has one of those perpetual colds. It’s a constant, and yet also intermittent, sniffle. Chronic Cold. Perhaps it comes from his years as a smoker, although the smooth taste of a Lucky hasn’t graced his lips in over 5 years. He thinks to himself how it doesn’t matter now. What’s done is done. He thinks generic thoughts like that, and wonders if he will ever thing of something brilliant. He thinks that he probably won’t, and it makes him sad.
The cold doesn’t make him sad though. In a way, it’s become a comfort, a constant, like his Chronic Cold. Every year, it sneaks up on him, the cold. As if one summer afternoon he fell asleep, and awoke to find it was winter. Somewhere, in dreams, he remembers the red and yellow of autumn, and it makes him smile a small smile. One of those smiles that starts in the mind, but somehow doesn’t make it’s way all the way to the lips.
Autumn never seems a complete season. It’s always a hazy passage between the heat of summer and the chill of winter. It’s the journey, not the destination, although he would chastise himself for thinking it in such a cliché. He thinks that it would be lovely if it were full, like the winter, but all of the musings in the world won’t make it so. He knows this very well. He has no delusions that he can change the world.
He has a few delusions that he can change himself. He points to quitting smoking as evidence of that. The truth is, he was never much of a smoker. Deep down, he knows that he romanticized the entire thing, but it’s something to talk about.
“Care for a smoke?” He imagines someone might say.
“Oh, no thank you,” He might reply. “I Quit.”
The other nods. “Yeah? Good for you. I’ve been trying for years. It’s just so hard, you know?”
Now he nods. His nod tells the other he knows. “I know,” he replies.
He imagines conversations going like this. He puts himself in places he knows they might come about. In smoke filled bars, standing near ashtrays outside of buildings and at bus stops, in the corner cafes. Sometimes it works, and he gets the change to tell the other about his triumphs over tobacco. He doesn’t talk a lot though. It’s not his style. He has to have planned it all out first. The smoking bit he has down.
But he has to work on the autumn bit. And the Chronic Cold bit. He hasn’t rehearsed them yet.