Outside, snow deadened city and people equally as forcefully. The sky seemed to have collapsed in on itself, the damp, heavy blanket of snow enveloping the forsaken world within its suffocating embrace. I gathered myself as much as I could, slinging my purse over my arm and wrapping my scarf tighter around my neck. Looking around the theatre, I could just see the balcony and the lights rigging high above, silent and familiar in the blackness of the deserted theatre.
The chill cut instantly to my core as I hesitantly pushed through the stage door, greeting the outside world for the first time since morning. I was the last to leave, the only car left in the lot, a lonesome soul among shadows in the wintery land. Shivering, I snuggled further into my thick grey overcoat, quickening my pace towards the chilled metal enclosure of the car. In the dim glow of the stark streetlamps, it appeared as though not a single creature stirred in the matted environment. My car seemed frozen and foreign to my touch. I turned the key and it finally turned over, sluggishly choking to life. I could see my breath, even in the car, and outside the snow continued to fall, covering the ground in deep layer of white. Slipping through snow, squishing and crunching, I began to make my way home at last.
Few cars accompanied me on the road. Lonesome was the night, the snow had made hermits of us all. As I drove home, the heat blasting warm air about the car, NPR on in the background, I couldn’t help but think that an era was ending. The theatre, that theatre specifically, had been an integral piece of my life for almost four years. A shell of building, swathed in the powdery white, had a significance for me which was so great that I couldn’t help but feel sorrow as I drove away for one of the last times.
The landscape I was driving through was alien in the oblique white. Desperation became my foremost emotion as I drove on into the night. The lanes of the road became more and more difficult to discern. Everything was simply a wall of white as the blizzard crept in over the landscape. My shoulders hiked up towards my ears in an attempt to warm my body in the cold night air. Hunched over the steering wheel I slowly traveled onward, moving further and further away from the last era of my life with every mile I drove.
Driving onward, I moved without prospect, without direction, on into the night. Thoughts of the theatre flashed before my eyes. Lights on costumed actors, heavy makeup bedazzled across characters’ faces, fog floating saccharine through the hall, and voices hushed in whispers of anticipation lay dreamlike before my eyes. I drove onward towards an unknown destiny. The journey on that night felt as though it would never end. I slogged through the slushy, wet, thick snow.
I seemed to think about the death in my life on these nights driving home from work. I could just end it all here, I could just drive off the road and roll my car down the side of a mountain. So much else in my life had died. My grandparents had died; how easily they slipped from my grasp. Frail and ephemeral are we all in this life. I had died inside too; my heart had been ripped out a long time ago.
Where was I going? Where had my life gone, eighteen years gone without a trace of relevance?
I would never get home. Sure, I would arrive at a building that I had called home for so many years, cold, bewildered, and disheveled. But would I really be home— secure, complete?
As I drove on I got closer and closer to home, feeling the fragility of my life as the car skated across the icepack which was slick beneath the thick layer of white. Tomorrow would be another day back in the theatre. The people would be the same. That high-powered theatrical energy would fill the theatre to the brim. The snow would melt. And again, tomorrow, I would wonder where my life had turned so far from the course. I would wonder where I crashed, my car rolling down that mountain towards base, towards the center of my character.
Thinking back on this night, driving home from the theatre for one of the last times in my life, I am reminded of other snowy nights, similarly as comfortingly bleak. People shivered and muttered, holding on to the few small vestiges of beauty that would pull them through the winter on those nights. But I think I was happier then. I felt at least at that point like I knew what I was doing with my life. I knew where I was going.
I eventually reached home, or the place I currently called home. I feel like I am perpetually on a journey towards a home that is nowhere to be found. Towards a home that has no place and no time. The snow deadens the pain enough to go on. Innocence cannot be restored though; the snow is simply the illusion of security in a world that is more broken than complete.
-Ethan Brown Jones