Written by Kate Diller.
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss. 

Winter is the best season, and you’re not going to change my mind. I live for freezing days with harsh breezes that nip at your cheeks. I grew up in places that do winter well, have the season as it was meant to be. The sharp contrast of your cold surroundings and the warm coffee in your hand. I love the feeling of raw hands, cheeks, and nose, the only parts of my body outside of my sweatshirt. For three whole months, the heat shuts off, the planet drifts far enough from the sun to prompt the clouds to drop snow on us instead of rain. I don’t love anything quite like I love snow. I love the way it smells, but also the way it feels, the way you feel it more in your body than in your senses. I love to ride horses in it, run in it, even just watch it. I get closer to finding peace in the winter time, a struggle that plagues me intensely in the hot sun and emptiness of summer.

When I left for Texas, I anticipated missing so many things. I left behind my very best friends, familiarity, a social situation I almost understood, all for the promise of college and the idea that I could be even more fiercely independent than I already believed myself to be. What I didn’t bank on were the seasons in this state. Texas doesn’t have winter, not the way it was meant to be. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get cold in Austin, let alone see snow. I’d managed to survive so many things in high school, so much so that I fooled myself into believing I was functional. But here, I realized I had misjudged myself and my ability to cope. I hadn’t understood my dependence on the icy air, didn’t count on my need to feel cold to feel alive. There’s a part of my happiness that’s tied to winter, and in Texas, I can never quite find that piece of myself.

I’m not sure exactly when or how I became so dependent on a season, but here we are. It means the world to me, encompasses all of my favorite things. It brings with it the promise of a pause in school, a break in the intense cycle of stress. That break means I get to see my family, my favorite people in the whole world, crazy as they may be. Winter is the off-season for equestrians, when we focus on developing skills, building strength, and working with our horses, our partners. It’s my favorite part of the sport, the piece I find the most rewarding. I love it so much that I’ve completely foregone showing altogether, prolonging indefinitely at least a small part of my favorite season. Aside from the things that happen in winter, it’s the quintessential winter characteristics that truly tie me to the season, the cold and the snow, icy winds and hot coffee.

In a way, it took moving to a winterless place for me to realize how important the season is to me. I’m sure some subconscious part of me knew, is sitting in the corner of my mind, yelling “I told you so!” at the parts of my brain that didn’t listen. For those oblivious parts of me, though, it took a complete change of scenery for it to really hit home. The moment it clicked is still sharp in my mind. It was last fall, the one night it snowed in Austin. It didn’t stick, but I revelled in every second of it, out on Main Mall with everyone else. I could feel the snow on my face and finally understood how I had made it through high school in complete denial, never forced to confront my anxiety or depression head on. Back then, the winter had been there for me, with it’s cold embrace, bringing me all of my favorite things and people.

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