When my lungs ache. When my glasses fog. When my nostrils freeze shut. When my appendages cease blood flow to the point of gangrene. When my face won’t move. When I make little noises to force polar air into my block-of-ice body.
When MTM breathes deep and cackles, “This cold is nothing. NOTHING!!!!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!” When he beats his chest like Tarzan, only it doesn’t hurt because his chest is encased in a Swedish Army issue wool coat from 1945. When he skates down the icy sidewalk, while I cling to a drainpipe in horror, until I can barely peel myself from said drainpipe, because my whole body has become stuck like “A Christmas Story.“
When I notice the wintry quality of the light. When I breathe out and watch the steam disappear against the halo of the northern sun. When I see a man jogging uphill in a Santa hat and green long underwear. When I catch fat snowflakes on my tongue and delight in the dandruff they make on my shoulders and in my hair.
A decade of Christmases in Montreal, and I am never happy to leave. Always, I want to linger one more day. Tarry a little longer. Taste one more dish. See one more spectacle.
Maybe that’s the secret to returning to a place.
It never feels complete.