In The Bleak

When I was a kid, January was always The Month After Christmas, an entire month I basically resented because it didn’t have the colored lights and the music and the Yuletide Glow. It was enough, then, for it simply to have the misfortune of following December for me to dismiss it almost entirely — almost, but my mum’s birthday was at the start of the month, which granted it the smallest of reprieves. January, I knew on some kind of instinctive, atomic level, just sucked.

I still believe that now, but my reasons to root against the month have grown in the intervening years.

Maybe it’s just my age, or a tendency to slip towards curmudgeonly thoughts across the past few years — is that also an age thing? Probably — but January increasingly feels like the most difficult month to get through every year. It’s the weather, of course: the cold, the rain, and this year especially, the wind, my God, the wind. It’s a month that doesn’t want you to leave the house, and then punishes you for even trying. January, especially January in Portland, is a month that asks you to put on your metaphorical (or maybe literal, who knows?) thermals and not take them off for weeks on end.

(Still, at least there’s been no snow, at least so far as of me writing this; we’ll see if that’s still the case by the time you read it.)

This year, I’ve also ended up becoming horribly aware of how dark the month is. Not just the overcast twilight of stormy days, but the lateness of the sunrise and how early the sun sets, each and every day. I know, in theory, that the days have been getting longer since the middle of December, but it doesn’t feel like that, just the opposite; I wake up and have no sense of internal time. Is it 5am or 7:30? Have I slept in, or not slept enough?

It’s the middle of the month as I write this, with as much of January left to go as is behind me. I find myself hoping it goes faster, easier. Surely there has to be some kind of shortcut to make it to February.

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