Ever since my dad moved from Damascus, Syria, to Texas a couple years ago, I’ve spent my breaks in a little town outside of the small town outside of Brownsville, a city in the very southern part of Texas. My summers there consist of sharing jumbo-sized HEB horchatas with my father, discarding sneakers for sandals and flip-flops that make the humid weather a little bit more sufferable and munching on bright watermelon slices after dinner. Exchange the background summer tunes with Christmas music, and you also have my winter break.
On my flights from Berkeley to Brownsville, I had foolishly carried a jacket, which I promptly flung aside the second I stepped outside the cool airport. I swear I could taste the humidity. We turned on the AC in the car as I went through Facebook pictures of all the snowmen my friends in other states and countries were building. As I was unpacking, I laughed out loud when I extracted my winter coat, an everyday clothing item in Berkeley, from my suitcase. It hung in the back of my closet, sad and abandoned, for three weeks. I started borrowing clothes from my sister, seven years my junior, because I had been foolishly hopeful and filled my suitcase with sweaters and boots instead of T-shirts and sandals. It got so warm that once, when I was strolling back from the gym in my T-shirt and shorts, I looked up at the sun and thought I should make the most of my situation and tan a bit.
I won’t lie, though: a Texas winter isn’t as hot as it is during the summer, when the high temperatures combined with the humidity permeate every place you go and make the weather hellish. In December, the humidity isn’t as bad, and there is a slight cold breeze that appears every now and then like the godsend it is. But the fact remains: I was sleeping in shorts while dreaming about snow. Magical, beautiful snow. I was batting at mosquitoes while others skied down white slopes. I drank sweet tea and iced coffee while others cradled mugs of hot cocoa and pumpkin lattes.
But although my break hasn’t included any snow fights, fireplaces or hot chocolate, I’ve managed to have fun. If it had been cold, my stepmom couldn’t have found the fresh guava at the flea market (true story) that my brother, my two sisters and I fought over. If snow had been falling, San Antonio’s Six Flags would have been closed, which means my cousin and I couldn’t have screamed our heads off as we were flung 200 feet in the air on the Human Slingshot ride (he actually did all the screaming). If the streets had been frozen, my sister and I couldn’t have learned the basics of driving while somehow managing not to be pulled over by the police or causing any accidents and shamelessly blasting “Adore You” and horrible old Westlife songs at full volume to block out our little brother’s complaints about the absence of democracy in the process of choosing songs.
I had fun this winter break, but it’s still weird seeing palm trees instead of decorated fir ones. Somehow, loading up on ice cream at the grocery store doesn’t feel right in late December, and neither does hitting the beach. Throughout the break, a part of me still missed the absence of snow around me, something I haven’t enjoyed in three years.
Because the truth is, I am completely in love with snow: I believe it’s a piece of magic that has somehow accidentally slipped into our nonmagical lives, and come December, I was sorely craving watching snow fall and going skiing. But on my last night in Texas, I found myself in a car with my three siblings, singing along with our horrid voices to the Neighborhood’s “Sweater Weather” (while wearing T-shirts), the windows rolled all the way down as we drove around to pick, or steal, some lemons from a neighbor’s tree. And you know what I realized? Screw snow: Those three are all the magic this Muggle needs.
Contact Sarah Dadouch at [email protected]