Brightening a Dark Winter with Simple Pleasures

Written by Haven Capone

Some days, Mr. Cibor starts off class with a question. Popcorning to different students, he surveys obscure inquiries we’ve come to expect. It’s no rarity. A few weeks ago, he asked for a simple pleasure. Ambiguous but personal. This time I was a little taken off-guard. Not by the sincerity of the question– Cibor always approaches us that way– but by how easily two things came to mind. Two pleasures so simple, you almost miss them. But I never do. 

The first holds my sanity on a morning I almost sleep through an alarm. It lifts the spirits in my room subtly yet significantly, dictating my ease as I log-in to first hour. With the later start this year has brought, it’s typically sunny by the time we begin class. The curtains in my room are white, thin. They do a very poor job of protecting my tired eyes from the sure sun, but that’s what I like most about them. Weekends are immediately better when you wake up by rolling over to a gleaming window. You don’t need to turn the lights on before you go downstairs, nature does the job for you. This luxury has been expanded to every morning instead of two. So when no other sound has yet graced my ears, save the harp tone I set as my alarm, I choose to have the soft whoosh of my curtains being drawn be the first. The first real sound. Not technologically generated, but produced by the sweet combination of soft linen on white wood, indicating the start to my day. They bring little rays of sunshine into my room, not overbearing because I face south, but just enough to reflect off the jar of change on my desk, just enough to hit the tiny trinkets decorating my bedside table. I love to pull back those curtains.

The second I owe to my mom, as I do most things. I work at a bakery, scheduled delightfully from early afternoon until ten pm on a few weekdays, selling donuts by the dozen as I watch Birmingham pass by on time lapse. I enjoy it, whisking banana pudding and stamping logos on cardboard cozies, but by the end of the day, I want nothing more than to be home. To be sitting down, to be in the dark. To never see a “Party Time” cupcake another day in my life. So when I go home, lazily and alone down an empty Woodward, I’m not quite looking for conversation. I’ve talked enough today. I park out front and my shoulder hits the cursed metal horse mounted on our door as I walk in, typical.

…My shoulder hits the cursed metal horse mounted on our door as I walk in, typical.

I turn the porch light off, dropping a bag of goodies that didn’t sell by the stairs. My mom stands in the hallway, she knows I’m not up to talk. So she wraps an arm around my shoulder and says what she always does. “You smell like cupcakes.” I’m not sure why that phrase brings me so much warmth, but the quiet, knowing way she speaks consumes me with comfort. Those words are flannel sheets under a down comforter in early February. Simply pleasant. 

Things have been different. I’m in my room, alone and quiet more often than winters past. Eye bags have grown darker, and we move a little slower, the one-day-at-a-time mantra from the past trip around the sun playing like a broken record. We do what we can with what we have right now, and it’s difficult, but I think I speak for many when I say this year of being alone has allowed my heart to fill with simple pleasures.

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