Post- Magazine

the first snow [narrative]

an unwavering love for the unknown

I make a precise fold in half. I repeat with the same scrutiny, the same exactness, the same force, again and again. With a pair of safety scissors whose unused blades glimmer in my intent eyes, I calculate a snippet of the corner: Four thin, white triangles swirl down into my lap. Another cut at the opposite corner: Four thin, white squares land lightly atop the triangles scattered all over my lap. Carefully pinching the middle in half, I make two slits in the form of an “X” and then tilt my scissors to make the cuts that will connect the ends of this “X.” Paper stars fly down onto me.

The more I remove, the more I see an abstract tree branch. Happy with the number of details, I throw my scissors down and scramble to unfold my creation. To my disappointment, a choppy, asymmetrical paper snowflake forms.

This deformed snowflake is the closest thing I have to touching snow. Winters in Houston bring cool winds that pound your face, dry air with a tinge of smog, and Christmas lights drowned out by the empty night sky. Around this time of the year, I start my mornings with the cheap hot chocolate mix my dad steals from his workplace. I wander outside in my plaid pajama set, relishing the dead grass and trees without a worry in the world for preying mosquitoes. This is the season I live for.

A deep-seated memory helps me imagine the dreamy winters I hold onto when watching movies like Home Alone or The Polar Express. At the age of four or five, I’m awakened by a night of sudden snow: White coats sit atop the lawn, my parents’ Toyotas, the street. But no matter how hard I concentrate, I can’t remember seeing snowflakes stream from the sky, looking closely at the snow, or touching ice. I only have a single still image, but I recall the naive bliss of witnessing a previously unseen wonder. This single moment of the winter affords me a hope that I will cherish, until years later, when I can finally reach out and grasp snow.


February, 2021. On a call, my friend seizes my attention with a dramatic gasp and subsequently exclaims: “It’s going to snow this week!”

The news spurs an astonished “What?” as the single memory from over a decade ago floods my mind, and a wave of exhilaration rushes over me at once.

“There’s going to be a winter storm next Monday with a lot of snow,” she explains. Tinges of anxiety and regret blur within me, forming a jumbled picture that quickly mutes the memory. The first snow I will truly see is a storm I must shelter from.

The first day of the storm also marks the first day my family has ever used our home’s fireplace—a previously veiled amenity that emanated mystery. When my dad lights the logs and starts the fireplace up, my grandma, brother, and I huddle around for a bit of heat amidst the power outage and chilly air. The warm orange reflects off of my grandma’s beaming face as the sunlight brightens her gentle figure from the back—an image so sweet I preserve it with a picture on my camera. As I commune with my family in this compact circle, I start to feel dizzy and pick up on a smell reminiscent of an unlit stove. My grandma also complains of this smell, prompting my dad to turn off the chimney after a good 15 minutes. Though the smell eventually clears and my nausea wanes, I realize that I could have died this winter.

The very next day, my brother rushes into the bedroom I share with my mother to report drops of water from his room’s ceiling. We all hasten to observe the damage, noticing a small circular soaked patch. It can easily be repaired. My mom simply positions a bucket to catch the falling drops, and my brother continues to lounge in his untouched bed as the bucket fills. When we return to check the room an hour later, the patch that was once a foot across is three times as big and the water drops at a faster rate. Now my mom surrounds the bucket with towels and blankets to keep the floor dry, bringing out an even bigger bucket and vacating my brother from the room Another hour passes, and a chunk of the ceiling is not just wet but concave, as if an upside-down dome, barely holding in the accumulated water. My aunt, who happens to be over, begins to flip my brother’s queen mattress on its side so as to save it from a ruining demise. As my brother joins her endeavor, the sound of water splashing down into the bucket grows louder, so that I am reminded of a waterfall—though I am consumed with worry rather than savor this exotic sound of nature. My aunt and brother lift the bed up in the air when a small piece of the ceiling falls, leaving a black hole and an audible “uh oh” out of my mouth. My repeated screams of “hurry” frighten my brother out of the room while my aunt steadies the mattress against the wall, the water streams down through the opening in the ceiling, and the ceiling droops more and more. The bed against the wall, my aunt dashes out. A crash, a splash, a gasp. One second too late and she would have been hit by downpour, half of the room’s ceiling, and bunches of bright yellow insulation. I look up at the darkness of the attic, the wood panels, the fluffy insulation, the hanging piece of ceiling as water drips down. For some reason, I laugh.

December 2022. As my first semester of college in New England concludes, I can only reflect on the dissatisfaction in countless areas of my life: I’ve fallen asleep in the libraries after two nights in a row without sleep; I’ve only touched half the books on my dorm shelf, and half of those I skimmed and didn’t understand; I haven’t kept in touch with some friends when I really needed company;  I’ve coughed up an unhealthy amount of mucus everyday for months. I do not see the vision of charming sweaters and coats, pleasant walks along quaint old buildings, or snowflakes softly landing on my eyelashes—the vision I had in mind before coming all the way over here from Houston.

After a day of studying who knows what, I am set to trek back to my dorm and hurry into bed. With my first step outside, I spot flying specks of white stirring in the air as though micro-fireflies rapidly circle the vast night.

“Is that snow?” I utter to my friend, unknowingly reaching out my hands to catch the mysterious white dots falling down onto me, feeling the sprinkles of stings melt into particles of water on my skin. 


“It is.” He grins.

I laugh as the stars soar down on me.

I walk off the beaten path onto the mounds of snow. Grounding my feet hard in each step, I crunch into the tiny white mountains. On this sunny day, the snow and frost radiate their pure, bright whiteness all around. Trees, buildings, and faces alike look striking in this light. There are snow creations of all shapes and sizes—a puny and stout little snowman, an imprinted snow angel, and a robust sculpture of an Easter Island statue head. Everything is a marvel to look at, but it is only here for now, before the snow melds with dirt in the several awkward patches that survive the melting sun and brisk footsteps of students. I am content, though, because I know that more than just stills will be ingrained in my head—I’ll be able to preserve the luminous glow, the curious sounds, the boundless malleability, the flying stars in my memory.

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