It’s been winter for a long time now. It’s been winter in the insistent way of Colorado, snow weighing over the earth like the X-ray apron at the dentist. I crunch to the bus stop over thick, complicated patterns of ice: rivulets frozen solid, chance made immortal. The ice resists the sun, but she melts it away eventually. A different kind of insistence.
When I got here it was warm and dry and bright in a way that made me realize exactly how much closer to the sun I was, up here in the mountains. When I got here I ran out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs. I was supposed to teach and write, two things I knew I could theoretically do but seemed somehow impossible in practice. But when the school year started it didn’t matter whether or not my tasks felt possible—they simply were.
The days blur together in my memory: lesson plans and readings and my tiny basement office and dozens and dozens of muffins (baking is my stress reliever). Sentences upon sentences, paragraphs upon paragraphs, pages upon pages. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote when, or what I read when, or what I said each time I stood before my undergrad students, three days a week for fifteen weeks. What I do remember are the faces of the people who have grown dear to me over these months that have passed so slowly and in no time at all. These people whose writing I have been dazzled by, who have said unfathomably kind things about my own writing, who have driven me to the airport, whom I have picked up from the airport. These people who have eaten my muffins and sat next to me on my couch as we each read our own books—introvert heaven. These writers. This community.
Somehow I am a better writer now. Somehow I breathe easier. Somehow the ice persists. The sun does, too.
Julia Marquez-Uppman is a first-year MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction.