• Ana Sofia Valdes

Winter Blues

I haven't been able to write in a while, I kept telling myself that I had too much to do, or I was too tired because Max was sick or going through a sleepless face, but in all honesty, I just haven't been feeling very inspired lately.

After almost four years in Germany, I should know by now what winter does to my spirit. Yet, every time November rolls over, the darkness outside finds its way inside me and overwhelms me; the cold numbs all good feelings, and I turn into pure negativity. And it is not just the Mexican in me, in smaller or greater measure, this happens to everyone here. As the last leaves fall from the trees and the layers of clothing start piling up, the mood turns sour; people are less friendly, it is as if the effort to smile at someone on the subway or say good morning to the cashier at the supermarket needs to be saved for keeping yourself warm.

Growing up, I never understood the value of sunshine. I took for granted what the weather could do to someone. In Mexico City, the weather is nothing more than small talk. I never looked at the temperature or the forecast because the difference would always be a sweater. Here, the weather is one of the first things they teach about when learning the language. And rightly so, because you will need to know about it to survive any conversation from October to June. When the sun comes out, it’s a holiday and, even if it is still cold, you are bound to see a German in shorts.

The start of the grey season added to the fact that I hadn't been in my hometown for 11 months, and the imminent return of lockdown had me out of ideas and will to keep sharing my journey.

In the past month, a lot has happened; Max started walking and talking, we went back to Mexico for three weeks, and I managed to recharge my vitamin "T" (Tacos, Tortas, Tostadas, Tamales, etc.). Although I can't say that I am happy to be back, I am at ease with it, and it wasn't so hard as in the past.

Going back home is always a bitter-sweet feeling. On the one hand, I love being there. It is as if I had never left; the people I love are always welcoming, the independence and freedom I don't feel here come back immediately, and just by setting foot on Mexican soil, a part of me that here feels dead turns on like a Christmas tree.

On the other hand, especially with the pandemic, everything is different, people change, family dynamics evolve, and even finding a restaurant closed down makes me feel like a stranger in my own city. Being back is a reminder of what I don't have and what I have missed out on, the births, the milestones, the sicknesses, the gatherings, and the normality and comfort of my old life. It is also a strange reminder of my motherhood. It may sound weird, but having people that have always known me, see me as a mom, somehow makes it even more real. It feels as if when I’m in my little German bubble I live a parallel life, and being back home bursts the bubble and merges my old reality with my new one.

For the three weeks I spent there, I overload myself with activities, food, family, and friends, every day enjoying and dreading that it was going by so fast. I plan each minute as if those three weeks of intensity will give me enough power to survive the rest of the winter in Germany. Newsflash, they never do! On the contrary, it has a way of sneaking up on you, of reminding you of what you miss, of what being homesick feels like, and that even if you have adapted and learned to enjoy your life here, a part of you will always be missing.

And so, same as last year, I am taking an active decision not to let the grey outside come in. Apart from taking solace in chocolate, I'm forcing myself to get in touch with my thoughts, feelings, and words so that maybe the therapy that writing was during 2021 will also be so in 2022.

How do you get over the winter blues?

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