And then, it's cold.
And the winter smell is seeping in the crack, crawling up underneath the window and melting into walls. It is hovering over my purple comforter, wrapped around me as if I were a very large burrito- the kind they give you for free if you can eat all of it.
It is cold enough for the gray fleece jacket that I still find cat hair on after leaving my house over 8 months ago. But it is not cold enough for the gray fleece jacket in the subway. I am not sure it will ever be cold enough for the fleece jacket down there.
Because there are still a lot of people who go to work everyday. And we are making a lot of warmth in the small metal cars racing us to our jobs. Sometimes I close my eyes and I pretend that the warmth is goodness and kindness. We are so good and kind standing here huddled together that it's hard to breathe. And our goodness and kindness condenses into compassion. And that compassion begins to bead underneath my arms and to run in long thin streams down my chest and around my breasts, tickling as it drips.
And I imagine that the woman's elbow in my back is a sharp reminder that I am of worth. A sort of strong, pressing welcome to the stifling goodness and kindness we are sweating in our box. The ajumma's purse in my kidney is a dinner invitation and the man's arm reaching across my shoulder for a handle is complimenting my hair.
And when I exit the box and march up the stairs with all the people who have somewhere to go, the air punches me in the face and I zip my fleece jacket up to my chin. Because it is cold. I walk fast to keep the goodness and kindness from fading too soon.
The winter smell. It smells like walking up the Hill at Shorter. It smells like getting out of a taxi and rushing inside for coffee with Tariq. It smells like sitting at home for hours in a dark living room with my mom and the TV, blankets shielding us from the cold that creeps under the front door, despite the towel rolled up and shoved next to the gap.
And now, it also smells like arriving above ground in Korea and taking a deep breath that stings with its chill after all that stuffy goodness and kindness.