I wake up.
The days are similar. I wake up, shower, and run out the door with only 10 minutes to spare before work. I take the same route to my parking garage every afternoon and park in the same spot facing 9th St. The snow is crunchy under my feet these days. It falls overnight, melts during the day as the sun pulsates on the roof of Hotel 43, and freezes again when the sun sets at 5pm.
I walk into work right on time and talk with my desk mate for a while. Her name is V, and she’s my favorite person in the office. We catch up about our weekends, what weird stuff her husband has done lately, my headaches and her back pain, and how cold it is sitting next to the window. I unfold my laptop, drape my scarf over my chair, and check my email.
Sometimes, I get distracted by how pretty the view is from my window. I’ll be in the middle of writing a case study and I’ll look to my left. Suddenly, snow is billowing down from the sky in swirling tufts. It feels so different to be three stories up to witness snowfall. We’re so close to the action. I get to watch the flakes fall all the way to the ground.
Wednesday evening, we have our company Christmas party. Everyone from the office is there, huddled around a banquet table at Solid. I sit awkwardly next to K (my other favorite person in the office) and V. Almost everyone has a “plus one” except for me. I’ve asked a couple of friends if they could come, but they’re all either with family for the holidays or working. I feel vulnerable at the table. Alone. I’m the only person who decided to wear a dress. It’s navy blue with pockets so I don’t have to constantly dig for my phone. Why don’t more dresses have pockets? This is a seriously untapped market. I’ve curled my hair and pinned one side back, revealing my shiny, fake diamond earrings. I’m overdressed compared to everyone else, but this is the first work Christmas party I’ve ever been to. I wanted to be.
K and V laugh at my dumb jokes during dinner–I can’t figure out if it’s out of pity or they genuinely think I’m funny–and we take a goofy selfie together. I’m actually happy with the way I look in it. K says he looks like a doof, but I think he looks just like K. Funny in that “I could give a care” way. I’m glad he’s here to chat with me about Marlowe and the Pokemon tournament we’re holding at work.
After dinner, we go back to the office for drinks and fudge. I build a quick playlist on Spotify called “Actually Good - Christmas Songs for People Who Don’t Suck” for the evening, and everyone seems to really like it. Did you know Twisted Sister has a Christmas album called Twisted Christmas? I have a glass of wine and a cup of cranberry punch V and I make in the kitchen. We laugh as we pour an entire bottle of champagne into the punch bowl, wondering if anyone will even drink it.
At FFW, we have an annual holiday tradition. The week before the party, we all jot down three lies and one fact about ourselves and send them to K, who enters them into a Google doc. Everyone takes this quiz to determine who knows everyone best in the office, and the winner gets a gift card to the coffeeshop across the street. The person who gets the fewest answers correct has to keep a hideous ceramic statue of a cowboy on their desk for the rest of the year. Surprisingly, I win the competition, and I feel guilty since I don’t drink coffee anymore. It fucks with my anti-anxiety medication. I pocket the gift card anyway. I’ll buy everybody coffee on Monday.
K, L (another cool person from the office), and I are the last ones at the party. Others either have to travel the next day or have families to get home to. K and L help me carry the decorations I brought for the party back to my car. I stuff the wreath, some garland, Christmas lights, and fake flowers in my trunk. I still feel a little tipsy, so I walk to 8th St. to sober up. The whole city is quiet. So much snow is falling that you’d think you could hear it smack the ground. Big, fat flakes pour down from the sky and soak my hair, ruining my curls. I don’t mind. I keep walking. It’s so, so silent.
I get to Bittercreek and ask if a friend who works there is cooking tonight. The gruff kitchen manager grumbles to me, “He left forever ago.” I leave and head back to my car, marveling at the silence. I can only hear my footsteps clattering on brick in The Grove.
I sit in my car for a while watching snow pile on the windshield and think about how different next year will be.