Friday afternoon I found myself outside in the midst of the storm. Determined, I pointed my paisley printed umbrella down Delancey Street. Cowering behind its cheerful swirling colors, I cursed myself. Why had I left the comfort of my warm apartment? Why wasn’t I snuggled under a comforter, sipping cocoa? Were it not for my five extra pounds of “winter weight”, the unrelenting gusts of wind would have blown me down the block- no question. The wind combined with the slush starting to freeze on the sidewalk made forward movement slow and scary. I soldiered on, finally descending the subway stairs. Underground and out of the wind, I closed my umbrella, feeling like Xena Warrior Princess sheathing her sword. Nemo could rain sleet and snow on NYC all night; others stronger than I would slip and fall on the battle field. I was going to take my crazy Californian ass home and remain there until the sun emerged.
This is my ninth east coast winter. I’ve mastered the winter wardrobe: dozen adorable hats, four coats ranging from “cute and kinda warm” to “who cares how I look I’m WARM”, and long underwear for every day of the week. The sight of my own skin in February no longer elicits an instinctual, “EEK! GHOST!” I accept lack of color and quality fresh fruit from November-March (however much it hurts). These have all become routine, simply the way of life. But snow? Snow still brings wonder and awe when my California-grown eyes behold it.
Before I moved to Massachusetts for college, I could count my experiences with snow on one hand. I’ll never forget the first time I experienced snow. It made quite the impression.
I was three years old and on a family vacation in Yosemite. I remember nothing else about this vacation, it is a single moment frozen in time. May 1990. In the mountains of California, Yosemite still has lingering snow patches in late spring, even if the outside temperature is in the 60s-70s. My parents, both born and raised in the tri-state area, were excited to introduce their little girl to snow. At the first sign of a significant patch, they pulled the car over to the side of the road. My mother zipped up my coat and attempted to put shoes on my feet. I refused to let her. Road trips meant no shoes! They meant running around at rest stops, barefoot in grass! No pavement, no reason to hinder my toesies! NO! NO SHOES!
The pile of white stuff outside looked fluffy and shiny. It was completely foreign to my four-year-old eyes. The only thing I could compare it to was sand, and what doofus wears shoes in sand? Another mother would have forced shoes upon my kicking feet as screams of “NO SHOES!!” echoed through the trees of the national park. My mother just shrugged and said, “Ok, if that’s your choice. No shoes. Let me know when you change your mind.” I jumped out of the car, my bare feet relishing the grassy landing, and ran to the pile of snow. One moment I was all smiles, sticking my toes into white. What was this!? It was cold! And wet! It felt awful! I burst into tears, the next second I was running back to the car begging my mom to put my shoes on. I never learned a lesson so fast and so effectively.
I now have two pairs of boots, both warm and reasonably waterproof, so my feet may never come in contact with snow again. With this weekend’s blizzard past, these are especially important, as street corners turn into soupy, deep puddles. There is nothing worse than wet, cold feet. I love snow as it falls, when I can catch it on my tongue. When it lands pristine and white. I hate when it gathers in dirty piles, when it makes my clothes and extremities soggy. That brings back bad 4-year-old memories. Winter and I, we have a love-hate relationship.
What is your first memory of snow? Did Nemo blow you over this weekend?