New York City, January 7, 2014

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Shrieking and wailing echoed past the elevator banks as the wind seized the building. The door in the basement passage to the package room fought back against the effort to open it. The glove liners had not arrived. On the next level down, the bulky parka was in the storage cage, where it had spent the entirety of the winter before. The silk tights and a cotton longjohn shirt were in the back of a the socks-and-underwear drawer. T-shirt, longjohn shirt. A pause for reflection on the options. Long-sleeved t-shirt, wool sweater. The thickest long scarf. There was a brittle old grocery list folded up in the pocket of the parka. As the door opened onto the astonishing cold, the woman ahead yelped in shock. A man was crossing the street, his face florid, almost liverish. Starlings puffed up and huddled in the gutter, against the curb. Rivulets of dog piss lay frozen solid where they’d landed and begun to flow. The day was bright, if short; somehow the sun had found the proper angle into the usually dim depths of the office. It was tempting, on the way home in the dark, to run blindly across the street, rather than turning a bare face into the wind to look at the oncoming traffic. The cold got into the chest where the memory of the flu was, and raised a spasmodic cough. What does it mean, really, to feel wholly alive? To feel fully capable of dying. The long underwear would stay on at bedtime.