The Great Gray Midpoint

Even winter — the hardest season, the most implacable — dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.

Clive Barker

Never been much of a fan of calendar months dictating behavior. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I believe charitable donations can easily also happen in months that don’t start with the letter D. And there’s really no need to wait until the fourth Thursday in November to get the people you love together for great food and conversation.

And yet, over the last decade-ish, there’s something about February. It makes me antsy. Twitchy, even. As though the month itself was made just to embitter our souls and force us down, and our quest is to escape it, with the swiftness. Or at the very least, hold our breath and plug our nose and get to those better things that are coming down the road a-piece.

It wasn’t always this way. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was in elementary school, with inconsistent regularity — yet I have written evidence that February marked an auspicious event for me throughout my childhood years, that I looked forward to, with a near reckless abandon.

No, it wasn’t Valentine’s Day. Although I have a whole mess of sense memories of bringing in my shoebox full of cards and the exact same kind of candy then bringing home a diverse selection of cards and candy in equal quantity. Then it morphed into an excuse to eat candy on a non-Sunday, and marathon rom-coms on cable TV. Even as an adult — until relatively recently, at least — if I had an attentive boyfriend or spouse at the time, they would always do something adorable, like flowers and dinner and defining our relationship in new and exciting ways (everything from the exciting early years conversation where you decide to become exclusive to the “getting engaged on Valentine’s Day” thing).

And all of that was lovely (if a little Hallmarky) and I treasure those memories — but they aren’t what stands out as the reason I got all aflutter thinking about what February would have in store for me.

That reason was, of course, my half-birthday.

Halfway to August. Halfway to presents and cake, to later bedtimes and reaching the many milestones over the years that I watched my older sister reach. Halfway to swimming pools and sleeping in and extended trips to some new location on the map (or a highly desirable traditional one, like grandma & grandpa’s house).

February was fabulous, not because it was February, but because it was a significant notch on the measuring stick of calendar time.

Come to think of it, I suppose my feelings on February haven’t changed all that much.

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