New York in the fall is beautiful and vibrant—full of color, the air crisp and fresh, cheeks pink and chilled. At the same time fall is depressing and disheartening—the leaves are changing color, and then they decay and leave the trees naked and exposed. The days get shorter and that icy breeze that whisks down avenues becomes a reminder that winter is well on its way.
Being single in New York during this time is both refreshing and terrifying. The excitement of spending the holidays at home in pajamas, snuggled up with Christmas movies with my family gives me a warm feeling in the center of my heart that heats up my blood and acts as a barrier to the ever deepening cold.
At the same time, being single in New York brings to mind all of the things the holidays have meant to me (and my little, complicated world) when I’ve been in love. Holding hands while looking in shop windows, anxiety over the perfect Christmas gift, having someone to kiss my rosy, cold cheeks—snuggling up with a good Netflix movie as the snow comes down hard outside a boyfriend’s Manhattan apartment.
These things can send shivers through me that seem endlessly more cavernous than the temperature outside ever could. These kinds of thoughts can cut me to the quick. They scare me.
I can’t remember the last time I spent a Christmas where I wasn’t in love, let alone a winter. I had Green for one perfect Christmas and then Grey came along the following summer. We didn’t even spend Christmas together last year but he was in my life and that was enough to stave off the loneliness. He was there to keep me warm when the glow of the holidays faded and the sharp, icy freeze of a wasteland winter came along, leaving the world in a stagnant, miserable state until the end of March.
I know I can make it through the holidays in one piece, guided by the love of my family and the joy of celebration. But what about when February rolls around? When I’m alone night after night, when there’s nothing to look forward to but endless days of grey haze.
Being single in the summer and fall are easy. It’s the perfect time to be alone and alive—the sun is hot, the drinks are cold, and the AC is on. The weather is beautiful; everyone is out and about all the time. The clothes are much more flattering. Generally everyone is in a better mood and everything seems brighter.
In the winter, it’s like a never-ending night. Knowing that I’ll be facing it alone is terrifying. My brother has been in New York for the last few months—studying at NYU and interning at a popular variety show. I’ve never felt lonely having that little jokester around. He’s been shacked up in a dumpy little studio at 76th street and we’ve spent every Wednesday night watching Downton Abbey and the Mindy Project. He’s been a constant companion and I’ve barely felt the sting of my newfound singledom. But, he’s going away soon—studying abroad in London—and I’ll, again, be on my own. But this time in the winter. This time without anyone to be there for me. I don’t even have all of my favorite shows to keep me company on the lonely evenings at home. Their seasons are ending with the fall and everything will be quiet and silent for months to come. That may be the single most “single” thought I’ve ever had.
It feels like anything is possible when the weather is nice. It feels like meeting people is easy as pie, even though I’ve sworn off men for the time being (only when it comes to relationships, obviously). In the winter it feels like a giant frump-fest. It seems pointless to go to bars or to shave your legs, and it’s impossible to wear heels when you could slip on ice and die. It’s a time for already having a boyfriend, not trying to find one. The winter is not the season for New York singles.
I feel the approaching sense of disenchantment that can only come with unbearable cold and fourteen hours per day of darkness. New York and I are in for a long winter. So bring on the wine! Though I’m having trouble seeing it now, I’m hoping for a very bright light to be at the end of this tunnel. And who knows? Maybe I’ll slip on ice and into the arms of the perfect stranger. Nothing’s impossible in New York, after all.