God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay…
What she loved most about Scranton was the winter.
Cold and ice and snow and things that fell from the sky that looked so much like home to her it could make the breath catch in her throat. The way that she was skilled at maneuvering slippery streets and five o’clock darkness, and the way that her cheeks turned red with the chill in the air and her breath visibly puffed out of her mouth to make little clouds that mingled with the snowflakes and the twinkle of Christmas lights.
So many things were new for Pam this year that sometimes she felt like she was floating in a foundation-less abyss. She had Jim, of course, and he was so much a part of her and so warm and he was all of the things that she knew, but sometimes it seemed like Scranton itself had turned into a different place… because Pam was so different. She ate at different restaurants, she shopped in different stores, she had new friends and a new apartment and a new sense of romance. Pam had changed and suddenly the world was open, uncharted territory. Suddenly Scranton was all overwhelming and foreign and sometimes exciting…but sometimes it was just… She felt like she needed to sit down and take a breath, take a break. Sometimes she wished she could go back to when everything was mind-numbingly familiar.
That was why she’d gotten tears in her eyes when Michael had called out from his office and announced that it was snowing. He’d yelled “First snow!” and she had smiled like she usually only smiled at Jim, and her eyes had watered of their own accord and she had gotten up from her seat and gone to look over his shoulder out the window… She was the only one in the office to react, the only one to respond and participate in Michael’s child-like exuberance because to her it was like the warmth of the kitchen, and the smell of freshly baked cookies, and the soft glow of a Christmas tree and… home. It made her feel at home again. She’d crossed her arms and bit her bottom lip to keep in what might either be laughter or tears, and she nodded at Michael when he asked her if she thought it was beautiful. Because…yes, to her it was.
Since that first snow Jim had commented often on her cheeriness…her exuberance…the way that she decorated her place and spent hours in the kitchen and made him take walks with her to look at lights and to catch snowflakes on their tongues. He sometimes called her Martha Stewart and it made her laugh. She sometimes held his hand and it made him smile. They would go on walks with coats and scarves and mittens and hats, and they would link arms or hold hands and make each other laugh through block after block of inflatable Santa’s and softly lit nativities.
Then other times they were much less merry and much more quiet, because sometimes Jim was unhappy…sometimes he felt stuck…or afraid of being stuck…and he would sit on the sofa with his head in his hands and refuse the hot chocolate she’d made, and so she would kiss him and she would tell him to put on his coat…
Because this was how she loved Scranton. This snowfall and this holiday and this chill in the air. And she promised that he wouldn’t feel stuck anymore if they just went for a walk.
And usually she was right.
She was realizing that even though she’d known Jim before, it wasn’t until the snow had fallen that she’d realized all of him. It wasn’t until the temperature slipped low and frosty, it wasn’t until they started to huddle together under the blankets and whisper because that was what people did in the cold month of December, it wasn’t until she used his oven to make those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey kisses in the middle because those were his favorite, that she realized he was inside of her life and he was inside of her home and between him and the snow she could die a happy woman. Sometimes she thought she must know him better than anybody else. Sometimes she was certain he knew her better than Roy ever had.
She loved him like first snowfalls and scattered ornaments and the scent of pine. She knew him like Scranton in the winter, and December felt like the warmest month she’d ever had. And she was sure that before the month was over she would tell him exactly how she felt…exactly how much of her he really was, and exactly how much of him she wanted to be.
“This is a little bit intense,” he admitted, leaning over her desk with a tight-lipped smile. She tipped her head at him.
“Bringing me home to meet your parents?” she wondered, and he opened his mouth to reply, but she stopped him with warmly spoken words, “Or the fact that this is our first Christmas together?” she added, and this time he didn’t even bother trying to respond because he could sense that she wasn’t finished, and, predictably, she went on, “Ooor the excruciating pressure of knowing that tomorrow I will be opening a present from you, and our entire relationship depends on how wonderful it is?” this last was deadpan, and he raised his eyebrows at her, blindly scratching at the spot where his watch met his skin.
“Uh, yeah, yes all of those things seem intense to me,” he told her, a flatness in his voice that did nothing to hide the way that he was being completely honest. She smiled mischievously and wagged her eyebrows at him a few times, pulling a genuine laugh from his mouth and making him shake his head at her in a way that was purely Jim.
If she were honest, she would admit that she’d been waiting for this day with childish excitement, sure that spending time in his childhood house would be like turning the clock back ten years and seeing the way that he’d been as a teenager, a child, a boy with brothers and sisters and parents and all of the things she never really got to know about him.
Of course, she was also nervous in that ‘I‘m going home with my boyfriend for the first time’ kind of way, but she consciously chose not to focus on that part.
“Well, call me crazy,” she responded through a smile, “but I think we’re pretty awesome at handling intense relationship landmarks. Mostly,” she looked up toward the ceiling in thought, “because we’re funny, highly intelligent, surprisingly athletic when necessary, and also young and idealistic,” she finished, grinning up at his grin and wishing the day would pass just a little bit faster. He watched her for a moment and shook his head in exasperation.
“Wow,” he drawled, “you forgot to say that we’re good looking,” he corrected and she clicked her tongue at herself before smiling broadly at him. He returned the smile with trepidation and she felt his next comment coming before it even fell from his mouth. “It’s still intense,” he mumbled, his head down and his fingers hanging in defeat over the ledge of her desk. She patted the tops of them gently and sighed.
“Don’t worry,” she told him earnestly. “Here,” pushing a Tupperware toward him, she smiled toothily and he laughed again, “have a cookie.”