Today I’m suspended in gray. Ash mostly, a bit of slate, a sprinkling of charcoal. Other days there’s mercury and fog or if I’m lucky silver and gunmetal. Rarely do I glimpse other hues. Cursing under my breath, frustrated with the slightest disturbance, the wheels slip in the cogs and the whole contraption pauses. Machines and my mind falter, the world slides, out of balance, off key.

I knew it was coming. I’d staved it off for so long. Remember all that caffeine and the hours in front of the happy light? Recall my boasting of regular exercise and fanciful holiday dinners? But even with those efforts, it arrived. This, the winter grays, came on hard, like thunder rolling over my world. I would call it winter blues, but I’ve seen so little of blue. All I see are the ever-present shades of gray interrupted by all that black.
Even though I expected it, I’m surprised. I live at the top of the planet, after all. A California girl in a place with only five hours of daylight? There’s no way I can exist here without falling under the curse. They warn you about it. I’ve written about it. And now I’ve succumbed to it.

This week, I packed away our holiday decorations and turned off all the twinkling lights. Instead of watching the sky burst, I scan the road and notice the ground littered with the debris of fireworks long-exploded. Instead of planning the next champagne night, I start a rigorous New Year diet. No more drowning out the winter with red wine or even with frothy lattes. And with the diet comes a two-week intensive period where I’m to walk each day, instead of sprint on the treadmill or swim for an hour in a hot pool beneath the snow.
Even the kids grumble and grow grumpy. Beautiful white snow surprises us, then disappoints, followed as it is so quickly by rain or hail or wind. Or, recently, all three at the same time, keeping everyone indoors, avoiding whatever is beyond the front door. School days, I get the kids off and the morning surges with possibility, until 10:00am when I’m at my desk begging the pitch-black sky to disappear. Solstice passed, but there is still so much darkness, SO MUCH WINTER. I pace, sit, stare, and use all my might to become productive.

Hibernating has never been my strong suit, nor denying myself culinary pleasures. So today, I’m going to wallow in it, I’ll trudge and groan through the winter grays. Complain and carp. Whine and whimper.

Then, tomorrow (or some day soon) I’ll light candles, I’ll wish for an early spring, and I’ll stare at the sky until I force it to blush with color.

About ericajgreen

Writer/Editor living in Reykjavik, Iceland
This entry was posted in Depression, Iceland, Reykjavik, Uncategorized, Winter and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to GRAY

  1. Cathe Jacobs says:

    Beautifully captured, moving and brilliant! Both mom and I agree an amazing piece.

  2. shannon says:

    I experienced the same thing in Germany, I’m a south Texas girl, and the 8:30 – 4 of gray overcast drizzle every single day just wore on me after all the colors and festivities of the Christmas season.

    Lighting a candle helped and so did buying flowers to keep in living, that little spas of color helped a lot. Ironically now that i am in the tropics where the seasons are wet or dry but always warm and green, I really miss sitting by the window drinking hot tea watching the snow drift by.

  3. Dani says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful post, I can picture and feel exactly what you are describing.

    I don’t know if there is another color in the world that can so completely smother an environment and everyone in it as the color grey. Thinking of our time in China and the way I always describe it to people, what I remember most (besides the fantastic food and the endearing practical-to-the-point-of-absurdity nature of everyday Chinese culture) is the grey. Grey sidewalks, grey buildings, grey skies, grey air. Some days it felt creepily like an alternative universe in which everything looked exactly the same, grey and foggy, no matter which way we turned.

    But, as you say, the spring always returns, eventually. I’d say the “darkest hour is just before dawn” but when dawn is literally at 11am, I suppose that saying does not bring the same comfort as it does elsewhere in the world.

  4. 7redz says:

    So very well written! A universal phenomenon experienced all around the world at different levels post holiday rush no matter how much light might be around. I can’t imagine after your last post (Winter Solstice in Iceland) though, the extend in your neck of the woods! Love you used the color gray instead of blue… blue actually is lovely, quiet and restful. Full of peace. Gray a whole different mood and more accurate to “winter blues”. But my mother taught me from early childhood that this time of year is one for rest, and recovery, reflection. Gray can come close to the silver of a mirror if you look hard enough. Hang in there. It’s not all bad, and I personally see hints of blue in the pictures you posted above. Remember it’s perspective, although I know hard to see when the gray is pressing in. Light that candle… it helps.

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