Every year, when winter hits here in Chicago, I wonder what I was thinking by planting roots in a city where gray drear caps the skies and frigid doesn’t even begin to describe the subzero temperatures post wind-chill.

When summer comes, and the city comes to life, I remember why I stay.

These seasons marked by dread and joy are bearable in part because of their predictability. I cannot tell you how much snow or ice winter will bring any more than I know how many sunshine laden days we’ll get come June. What I do know is that both will come around the time I expect them to, give or take.

I don’t always know the details, but I can always expect the seasons to change. How marvelous it is, that nature gives us a blueprint for our own lives. The simple act of stepping outside transforms itself into a bold reminder that whatever season you are in, life is on a clock.

Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night when the world is quiet and on the cusp between yesterday’s bustle and today’s fresh start. My mind blares the loudest in these moments with reminders of the weight of loneliness my heart tends to carry. I relive moments of heartbreak and formulate new fears about whether or not manifestation works both ways. Will I ever get the chance to live through my fairy tale the same way I’ve survived my worst nightmare?

As I bundle up tonight, creating a cloak of cozy for myself on this chilly winter evening, I go to bed with the reminder that seasons change. It’s a small consolation even as I know that I’ll wake up to face another day of my fears, again and again until one day they’re behind my and replaced by new ones. The cycle of life. The predictability of seasons.

This winter, I pray that the coldest of nights and grayest of days are made more bearable by their seasonality. I pray for my heart, that it would never grow so comfortable being broken it would come to consider that place as home.