Day 18 of Loving MN Winter, 2018

I #LoveMnWinter! Today I love stripping away the excess.

By Elissa Schufman, she/her/hers

page from a poetry book that is titled 'you have arrived'

There’s no room on my bike for extra layers of clothes, for more weight in my panniers. In the summer I throw in whatever I might need — a change of clothes, a water bottle or two, a book in case I get there early. Winter demands a price for thoughtless overload. I pay it every time I put on one layer too many and arrive at my destination soaking wet, smelling like the cold. The payment returns as a lesson, and the next time I know better.

There’s no autopilot on my winter bike. The dark, cold days force me to think ahead, plan my route, check the weather, charge my lights. I peer at the road on sunny 25-degree days, wondering what’s ice and what’s water. I leave work early whenever I can to catch a ride home in the sunlight. I brace myself for everything: popping a tube, getting stuck, falling down, uncontrolled cars, late buses. I am unequivocally, unapologetically aware.

There’s no time for bullshit. On the brutally cold days, I come home and it is all I can do to eat and go to sleep. I live more essentially, thinking not of wants but of needs. The clarity of it stuns me, when my body and my heart demand that they come first. They force me to ask myself: What lifts me up? Who brings me energy? Why do I give my time away to people and things I don’t even like, that don’t even matter? When faced with my limits, what do I choose? Can I choose myself? Do I even know how?

There are no illusions. Everything narrows. I say no to others, then no to myself. I imagine I have the time, but there’s never enough energy. My reservoir comes up empty, and I am challenged to find ways to keep it full. I listen to the rhythm of the dryer as it tosses my clothes. I lay on the floor and stretch my arms above my head. I devour book after book after book. I actually eat breakfast.

There are no regrets. I fall down, and I get up again. I test my limits. I give myself permission to rest. I laugh uncontrollably when my body is sore. I watch the snowfall. I stop on the bridge and marvel at the sunset. I walk through the slush. I carry the bounty of endless gratitude. I remind myself be grateful, to fight for more, to be present. I listen to myself, and say over and over and over again, I have arrived.

Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.