by Santa Shaara
Some men are not meant to walk the paths of normality, as I have learned.
Like a Snowflake
Meeting Steve, my mother says, was the worst event of my life, but I disagree. Steve was a dreamer. If I’d been smart, I would have seen that. I would have realized that he rarely touched the ground. But Steve was also a highlight, a snowflake, captured by my wonder, held for a winter and treasured forever.
I met him the first Saturday of my freshman year of college. He saw me standing in a group of girls, all of us scared, all of us determined that we’d meet a college boy, someone special. I watched as the others, one by one, peeled away like the skins of an onion, leaving me open to the eyes of those watching.
“Would you like to dance?” Steve asked.
Of course, I said, “yes,” and I walked on shaky legs towards the dance floor, stealing nervous glances at the man who’d chosen me. I was seventeen, younger than the others, and this guy was old. His hair had gray streaks, his face had age lines, his muscled body was huge.
“Are you a student?” I asked.
Steve smiled down at me, amused. His teeth were not the straight and evened rows of years of orthodontists. His smile was rough, but the laugh lines around his eyes made my heart race.
“I’m a senior,” he told me. “I did my time in Nam, and now I’m back for an engineering degree.”
A senior? My mind was spinning. I lost the beat of the dance and stumbled. Steve pulled me closer. My heart thumped. Warning bells were sounding.
“Relax,” he said. “I don’t eat little girls.”
My eyes searched for my friends. A couple were watching me. They smiled encouragement, and I danced on.
Steve and I talked of the Beatles and other rock groups. We skimmed over Vietnam and the peace movement. Steve was worldly. I breathed in his words and began to relax.
The music stopped, but Steve didn’t let me go. “I’d like to spend more time with you,” he said. I nodded, cleared my throat, and asked him his age.
“Twenty-five,” he grinned. “Does that frighten you?”
Everything frightened me about Steve: his age, his size, his self-assurance, but I clung. Snowflakes don’t last, but they impart beauty in their passing. I listened and stared up into his eyes with admiration.
Like a snowstorm, Steve swept me into the season. All that winter we dated. He danced me in and out of my awe and wonder. He entered my heart. Respect for his intelligence and his ambition swept me through the year. I shadowed in his glory. A year later, we married.
Our pattern together was uniquely beautiful and different. We relished being unusual; we savored our moment of beauty. But winter, which lasted long into my life, one day thawed my adoration, and our snowflake fell.
When my feet touched the ground of reality, the magic of our melding turned to dirty snow. Slippery and dangerous for those who walk on land, our crushed fragments fell apart, and we slid into different realms.
Snowflakes are meant to be seen from afar, and when we cup them in our hands to bring them into our daily lives, they melt away and lose their luster. Steve faded in the summertime and returned back to his clouds of dreams, while I kept my feet on firm soil, toiling with the ants and other insects, redirecting and mounding my world. Sometimes I missed the floating wonder of dreams, the dipping and plunging of winter winds, and our soft-limbed togetherness, but the sun had thawed me. I had bloomed into green growth and smiles; I could not go back.
Still on occasion, my eyes peer into the night. I know that Steve is up there, somewhere, drifting and floating in the frozen air. I think at times I see him in a dancing fragment of glitter. I know that once more he's an intricate, solitary snowflake.
NOTE:The above is autobiographical.
Sadly, my husband was swallowed by schizophrenia. He and I finally parted thirty years ago when he continually refused drugs or therapy. Alas, sometimes there is no happy ending for snowflakes captured in the winds. Steve now resides in a mental facility, unable to function in the world.