"Calm down" "Calm down" Calm down" my inner voice repeats. With the nurse forcefully holding my right arm, I look away trying to grasp a peaceful thought, a tranquil image to guide me through the moment. It is not as if there isn't one, but the realization many memories are joined by a tainted attachment saddens me. Much like viewing an extraordinary picture of yourself coupled with that of your abusive ex-spouse. Or the beautiful pure white, silk dress with the crimson red stain, front and center, which remains hanging in your closet.
Glancing up, the fluffy, perfectly formed snowflakes gently land on my eyelashes. The straw cowboy hat keeps the steady flow of snowflakes from completely leaving the top of my head wet. I inhale, coughing a bit as the freezing air flows in. The sky, painted gray by the low puffy clouds appears like an exquisite painting above the turquoise blue lake. The lake, with its jagged shape of Texas, although not frozen over, has the light outline of ice around its banks. I grapple with every detail, feeling it could never again be as perfect as it appears at this very moment. The tall grasses along the water's edge no longer green but rather like an encompassing wheat field. Beyond them, strong, giant pine trees, fit like a perfectly tailored suit, cradling the lake filled valley.
I glance at the line from my fishing pole which disappears into the darkness of the lake. Not one ripple or air bubble permeates the searing blue surface of the lake. I doubt the possibility of fish here and frankly could care less. Looking over at my partner, intently watching his line for movement, I blink my eyes to erase him from this, my perfect memory.
The aspen trees with their spindly white trunks and branches allow for a type of pattern as you consider the forest view. They keep the pine trees from overpowering the picture, much like placing a white area rug on your dark brown wood floors. Not a twig moves but closing my eyes I see the blending pattern of a beautiful fawn and her mother, looking out at me. What must they wonder? Do they too keep me in their memory? The endless panoramic view of the mountain ridges beyond this valley leaves me feeling as if I have a secret. I imagine being the only person in the world to have ever captured this vision.
As I exhale the crisp clean air, turning away from the forest and towards the lake, not a breeze is felt. The snowflakes begin to fall heavier, creating cotton spun blankets wherever you look. To crawl under this blanket and sleep, I know it would feel as if I were on a magic carpet ride.
The frosting of the ground, grasses and trees bring a brief smile to my face and my heart. It looks like I have taken a can of fake snow and sprayed just a bit to get a picture perfect holiday scene. The crisp, cold air against my face bites at the only bare skin showing. I feel the stinging of my cheeks as I tilt my head back, again to feel the fluffy snowflakes land, leaving small tinges of wetness on my naked face. Listening again for a sound, any sound, the perfect silence remains, blending naturally with this, my flawless recollection of a moment in time. This scene will last a lifetime. It has too.
The following summer, I return for a picture. Although beautiful, green flowing grasses, aspen trees rich with leaves echoing the sounds of chirping birds, a slightly smaller lake and flowers plentiful after an afternoon rain. I am provided with reminders but it cannot capture the perfection my mind has created of the frosted lake frozen in my memory. The tranquil moment will help me through abusive relationships, illnesses, moments of anxiety and depths of depression that sequester my mind. At times, it will be the gateway which opens, finally allowing my thoughts to quiet and a few precious hours of sleep to saturate.
I look up in the sky
Regardless of the fact that it's clear and dry
Day or night
A snowflake always falls onto me
It's a dream with eyes wide open
That no one else can see
I can be mad, happy or sad
Whenever the need strikes
The perfect puff of white
Can appear and be
That which brings a calm serenity
Although two decades have passed, many scenarios have played out, snow has fallen, flowers have bloomed, the memory has kept its own essence. Time would permanently delete the partner but a summer rendition of the lake picture hangs in my home. More importantly, that picturesque winter day, that perfect portrait is mine, forever.