Winter means wet mornings. The kind where the cold seeps into your bones through the membrane of exposed skin. The people who say that Southern California has no seasons are wrong. in other places, they see seasons in visual and overt weather changes like colorful leaves, falling snow. Here seasons are measured more subtly but no less profound. You can feel winter in the change from the smell of desert rock to ocean brine in the air; the shift of southern sun not quite able to ward the chill from your house’s bones; the orange red mornings and pink dusks like lenses thrown over a picture; the way the Pacific seeps into the air, causing rivers of fog to flow along the canyons. All these and more are winter here. It’s a closing of bloom even if roses and poppies and a few confused nasturtiums persistently flower and deciduous trees remain evergreen. We don’t need to emulate areas that have their four season; Southern California is secure in what it is as its golden light defines the golden state.

I go walking most mornings around sunrise. Another winter shift where right before dawn, the dark feels like it’s inked into the skin of the city. As my steps scuff down quiet streets, it feels as if light has yet to be called into reality and this dimness (never true dark because of the city lights–i’ve gone out on nights of a new moon and still been able to see clearly because the marine layer reflected back the city lights as an orange glow) will be past, present, and future. But of course the shift occurs. So gradual that at first I can’t tell if I can see more clearly because I’ve wandered into the block with more streetlights or if the day is really claiming its space.

My friend says that this is the year of the emperor. She says that this year we need to “work in taking up the space that [we] were destined for and unapologetically claim it.” I think that so much of our cultural narrative tells women that we are not supposed to take up space and if we do, we should apologize because we might be inconveniencing others. We are subliminally trained to work behind the scenes, often unrewarded and unrecognized. While there isn’t anything wrong with working behind the scenes, and honestly, we should not do everything with the expectation of reward or acclaim, I like thinking about a season where we remind ourselves that every human has a place they are supposed to be and doing the work to occupy that space is not a bad thing. It isn’t wrong to know what you are, where you are going, and actually prioritizing these things. It’s okay to say no in order to say yes to other things. It’s okay to simply say no. And it’s also okay to say an enthusiastic yes.

We’ve already cycled past the darkest day of the year. It’s only getting lighter from here. Slowly, sometimes messily, but always ineluctably.

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