Snow Falling on Potholes
I know you might be like 'hey, this is a total rip off of that book 'Snow Falling on Cedars' ' but it really has nothing to do with that book. Although I highly recommend it. The title's actually a bit of a joke. In a sort of twisted way…
Helga contemplates what has led her to give up her life for Arnold. She thinks about the circumstantial situation and the dramatic consequences. And frankly, it's all the fault of stupid accumulating precipitation.
A/N: Warning! This contains some pretty heavy stuff.Angsty? If you interpret that way… Dramatic? Perhaps… I just hope it makes you think just a little…about life. Or something close to it.
Life is full of regret. Don't deny it. Every day dozens or hundreds of 'what if' scenarios cross your mind. What if you had said this? Or done that? How would your life be different? I don't regret falling into that pothole. I don't regret that, knowing now the consequences. It strips away our sins. I do what I could.
Everyone in high school had bad habits. The alcoholism, the drugs, the sex. But everyone was able to grow out of it. Except for Arnold who is permanently damaged by it. And Helga who was never able to grow out of her love for that footballhead.
Snow Falling on Potholes…
I remember when I once thought the snow was beautiful. That seems like a long time ago. Now I think it's rather ugly. Not because of the traffic jams and overall havoc that it can cause- oh, no. I am in no rush to go anywhere. Snow is ugly. I can't explain why it's ugly. But I think I can explain my hatred of it. That I believe is even understandable.
I guess it's not so bad, when you first see it. I'll give you that. If you wake up before anyone else and you look outside at the white blanket that the world is. Or has the potential to be.
But then people stomp in it, drive through it, kick it, spit in it, eat it- and it becomes this brown slush.
Snow, like a lot of other things in this world, is easily tainted by people.
I think about going to Tahiti, or the Bahamas. Somewhere far away where snow doesn't exist. I think about it much more than I should. It's an exotic temptation, and perhaps unrealistic, but I'm terribly intrigued by it.
I wonder what would happen if I just left. No goodbyes, no notes, no farewells-
I think about that a lot. Too much. I think about what they would say when they realize I was gone.
They would say that it was typical of me to just abandon all my responsibilities. I was always spoiled, a brat-
And it makes me want to go even more as I know what these people will forever think of me. I will never redeem myself in their eyes.
I don't like this place. I don't like being here. There's nothing making me stay here.
Except for the snow.
The snow that I hate because it turns brown and ugly so quickly. Because it allows itself to waste away. I know it's childish of me to think this. But whoever said that I've grown up over the years?
I remember when snow meant freedom. I remember when snow meant liberty, wonder, intrigue-
The snow has lost its touch, but still despite everything, it's the snow that's keeping me here. Am I snowed in? I guess you could say that. But it doesn't mean what I imagine you think it means.
I remember Arnold. I remember him standing in the snow. I remember the way the white flakes fell upon his nose, in his hair. And I think of lost innocence, of tainted dreams, and forgotten childhood lessons.
And I realize I never did grow up.
You see, I discovered it because of the snow. I discovered it, and it led to other things. I had always wanted to remember Arnold as innocent. Someone moral, righteous, and beautiful. Someone more magnificent than me. Someone I could never become.
But Arnold was just as much a victim as the snow. Naivety and, innocence are not permitted to thrive in this materialistic world.
I remember the snow. I remember school being closed early. I remember the excitement, the anxious looks on everyone's faces at the liberated afternoon.
I remember walking home. I remember having to be careful because the snow was falling on potholes and you could not tell where they were. I fell into a drift.
And things that should have never happened- that weren't supposed to- did. And things I was never supposed to see- I saw. And I don't think I would have ever known the truth if I did not slip and fall into the snow drift.
I want to remember Arnold as a boy trying to save the world. Not the person who couldn't even save himself.
When I was very young someone ( now that I think about it, it must have been Bob) said when I had asked what the rain was, that it was God's way of crying. And I had then asked why he was crying. Bob told me it was probably because of something I had done.
As a four-year-old I was quite dramatized by the joke. And I remember every time it rained, I would think and wonder what I had done wrong to make God punish the whole world? I hadn't meant to take that extra cookie, Arnold deserved to have that milkshake in his face, and well…Harold just had it coming to him.
But then it would snow.
As a child, you generally think snow is god's gift to you. It blesses you with school closings, sledding, snowball fights, and marshmallow filled mugs of hot chocolate. But as a child I had wondered what I had done to cause God to make it snow. Was it something good? Something bad?
Was he happy, mad-?
But after a while I stopped caring if my moral righteousness correlated with the current precipitation. I do not like the idea of anyone- even an entity trying to judge me, my actions, or my behavior.
I know now my childhood is something to be treasured. Was it tortured? Now, I don't look at it that way. I sort of re-live what once was a day to day anguish over Arnold wistfully. When the things that mattered the most was seeing Arnold, finding excuses to be around him, plotting schemes-
I remember having snow fights. I remember Nancy Spumoni boots. I remember ice skating. I remember when I was 11 making Arnold kiss me under the mistletoe.
Our innocence. God, how I miss it.
I think we would all like to remember our childhood friends as innocent. As pigtailed, with crooked teeth, with high voices, and drops of a quickly melting Mr. Fudgie bar trickling down their chin.
You don't want to hear who is fucking who.
You don't want to hear who is in rehab for alcoholism.
You don't want to hear any of it.
I want to remember my friends of PS 118 as children. Annoying, perhaps. But fun and care-free.
Not the complete wrecks the world has turned us into.
Am I over-exaggerating? Probably. But you should know that I've always been the dramatic type.
And I can hear you asking me how I could possibly blame everyone else for our own mistakes? How can I not take responsibility for what I have done? Because I am NOT responsible. It took me years to finally realize this.
Although, I introduced it to him.
I can hear you screaming in the background- how dare you, how could you think of doing that to Arnold! Sorry, your screams will fall on deaf ears.
I didn't think anything would happen of it. And I had to admit that despite my fear of Arnold losing his innocence and naivety that an Arnold living a bit wildly turned me on.
But things have a way of plummeting downhill fast. And people have a way of conforming to the stereotypes we have made for them. Or rebelling against them with so much intensity that they hurt themselves.
I found that high school has a way of bringing out the worst in people. And for those who say that the high school years are the best ones, their lives have got to be seriously pathetic.
The clicks, the competition, the cruelty, the cockiness-
I don't want to remember certain things, but I do. I remember going to parties. I remember Nadine's sluttiness in her scantily clad dress.
I remember Sheena and her pot garden.
I remember Harold's alcoholism.
I remember Rhonda's plastic surgery.
I remember standing in that room, watching these people I had once spent hours wasting away summer afternoons sitting on the curb or playing pick up games of baseball.
And I hated seeing those yahoo sodas being replaced by tequila shots.
I hated seeing those care-free summer afternoons replaced by sitting in a stuffy basement getting high.
Fuck, I was such a hypocrite. I bet they all thought I was the worst though. Probably because I could always beat them at beer pong. And I had no qualms about sleeping around.
I was never addicted to anything though. Not cigarettes, not marijuana, not alcohol, not sex, and most importantly not the crystal meth.
You don't believe me? Fine, I don't care.
I experimented. It wasn't the smartest thing in the world to do. But I had stopped caring about what everyone else had thought of me a long time ago.
So, we were wrecks in high school. And I had to witness the lost innocence of childhood friends as they succumbed to the evils of a shallow, material society.
And then, I had to watch as the rest of them all grew up.
Now, Gerald started off in the radio somewhere before he got into politics. Phoebe is a brain surgeon. Stinky was a poverty-ridden farmer before he hit it big with oil. Sid went to Vegas and hasn't been heard of. Lila was last year's Miss Washington State.
Harold is married with four kids already. Sheena is working for the PeaceCorps. Rhonda's been divorced five times and very proudly recounts all the horrible details on every talk show she has managed to get on. Brainy went to New Orleans and married a southern belle named Gloria, and Curly became a business tycoon, although he almost lost it all when he tried to start an anarchy movement.
And myself? I'm still here. Everyone else left and I watched them go. Sometimes they come back for a visit and I'll see them at the supermarket. But sometimes is hardly never.
I remember Nadine looking at us, or maybe looking past us when she came out. A lesbian who had been trying for so long to stay attracted to guys-
I remember opening the invitation to Harold's wedding.
I remember Curly telling me about these ideas he had for integrating some digital technology shit.
I remember that everyone was able to overcome their high school and college vices. And perhaps only on the occasion now indulge.
Except for Arnold and me.
My vice I was never able to overcome? I never got over Arnold.
And Arnold's? Well, he was lost.
And I remember Phoebe telling me to move on. That I couldn't confine my dreams to the know-nothing city of Hillwood. That I couldn't stay here, because I wasn't responsible for Arnold. She told me that Arnold would have hated to see me giving up my life just to take care of him. Watching him as the last shreds of his sanity slip through the floorboards of Sunset Arms.
But I knew this already. Yes, Arnold would hate me for doing this. I don't like Hillwood, I don't like living here, but I'm happy here.
Phoebe told me that I wasn't making any sense. I was contradicting myself.
I looked at her, at the successful, delicate person before me. And I wonder which it is: a loving hatred or a hating love?
I want to be with Arnold. That's the only place I've ever really wanted to be.
And Phoebe wonders why I still love him, cling to him, worship him when he has become this shell of a human being?
And Phoebe looks at me and says shouldn't I be over him by now? She tells me to let go of my childish adoration of him, to finally grow up.
She doesn't realize that I never did.
I'm a child who pays the bills, who gives him his medications. I'm a child who does laundry, dishes, vacuums without a complaint. I'm a child still.
There are moments that replay in your mind over and over.
And you might think that when I was standing in that pothole, that I would have a chance to grow up, to see the harsh realities of life and finally mature. But with the wind whipping against my back, witnessing that Arnold had become addicted to crystal meth I had never felt so very young.
And I had always thought sanity was something you could hold onto. That foolish people were the ones that let it slip from their grasp with clumsy butterfingers. But you can't hold onto it. It's ripped out of your grasp- abruptly, painfully- as you watch something so incredible deteriorate in front of your very eyes.
There are things you cannot hold onto. Things you can't save. Like the fresh-fallen snow that is doomed to be destroyed.
Optimism has a way of drowning.
But then again, I'm still here. And damn, that's got to count for something.
I think about things. I think about certain things a lot more than I should. I can't explain it to you. But let me say this, it's the snow that keeps me here, not some sort of guilt trip, not because I feel obligated, or responsible-
The snow reminds me of him so much. It's one of those painful cyclic memories that replay in your mind.
I am here. I think about leaving a lot more than I should. I've said that before, haven't I? I think about leaving, but I know I never will.
I see the snow outside this little house. I see it building up, high, and mighty. And there are potholes hidden in the snow. Drive too fast, drive too slow, walk, or trip- it's a little hole trapping you in, making you see a moment for what it is.
Making you see the things you don't want to see. You want to pretend that don't exist. As you are forced to be still in the world- to see things for what they are- for what they have become.
If I had not fallen in that pothole I think I would be in New York even though I do not like cities. Or D.C. Or L.A. Somewhere large and far away. But I did fall in that pothole. And I do not regret it.
And I want to always remember Arnold for who he is, not what he has become. I want to remember the snowflakes in his hair. I want to remember the innocence of his face, his soft voice, and sincere smile.
I sit watching the snow accumulate. It's still early and no one is up yet. No one knows it's snowing. And I would like to think that I am the only aware that we are being draped in a white blanket.
Arnold's asleep, snoring lightly. And I smile to myself, as I think that after all these years, after watching our childhood fade away into the abyss, believing that our innocence and beauty had been drained long ago- that despite everything that has happened-
Deep down, Arnold is still and forever will be a naïve little boy trying to save the world.
He is sleeping peacefully, unaware of my vigilance, of the accumulating snow. And he is lying here reminding me that this is what beauty is, this perhaps is the innocence- something no one can touch. Soft, untainted moments like these.
And for a brief moment I think to myself- how could I ever want to leave the snow anyway?
Because deep down, I'm glad that I never did grow up.
I wrote this a while ago and I'd like to think that I was intoxicated or something when I wrote it cause it's a little out there. But I wanted to write something where Helga's kind of snapped mentally, emotionally from devoting herself to Arnold.
I know drug addiction seems OoC, but I tried to make it plausible and that's not what the focus of the story is about anyway, so I hope it doesn't bother anyone too much.
As most of my stories this was originally planned to be an elaborate story, but it was condensed into this Helga's pov thing. Yeah. I always have these great plans to write novels and then I'm like screw that shit.
Enjoy your day! And I'll understand your PoV if you take the time to review…