Dear New York City, I have become that person. That person who constantly talks about something she wants despite the fact that she has consciously chosen to move to a place where she has very little chance of finding it.
That something is snow.
Allow me to explain.
I am simultaneously chucking about New York City’s reaction to this blizzard and incredibly jealous about it.
From the ages of about 13 to 18, I lived in Minnesota. Formative years for a girl and, for me, some of the best years of my life. I loved Minnesota. I still say its where I’m from when people prompt me for that embarrassing conversation:
“Where are you from?”
“Yes, I know. But where in the States?”
To which I want to respond “How do you know I’m not Canadian?” (while simultaneously apologizing to Canadian friends who I know hate it when we Yanks draw too many similarities).
But then I answer Minnesota. And I can’t help but think about the snow. Minnesota snowfall ranges between 36-70 inches a year. The State is more than prepared for it. I think it defines a good deal of its character.*
At 18, I chose to go to university in upstate New York. For those of you who might not know New York State, it takes up a pretty large proportion of North Eastern US but the population are constantly saying “No, not the City… there are places in New York which are not the City…”
Upstate New York can be seriously beautiful, especially when the leaves change. But my favorite time on campus was when it snowed.
A good 70% of me chose Hamilton College for its campus. (It helped that it offered a seriously good education, but my priorities were screwed up back then. I’ve always been swayed by aesthetics.) Hamilton under snow was the Northeast at its best. Colonial architecture & grey stone dormitories surrounded by giant trees. Floor to ceiling windows several stories high in the Library just waiting for you to park yourself in an arm chair and pretend like you were reading for hours. Even the modern side of campus was made to cater to snow.
My parents inform me that I only love the stuff so much because they never made me shovel the driveway. And to that I say: very good point.
But take a girl away from snow after she’s had serious exposure to it and she’ll only pine for it. Not the ridiculously-long-so-frigidly-cold-she-has-forgotten-how-miserable-it-was bits. Not the blizzard that rolled through at the beginning of May, so close to our graduation that we thought we might be trading in our cute celebratory dresses for snowsuits season.
But those fleeting moments when the flurries give way to serious snow fall. Everything grows quiet except for the crunch under your boots. Time feels like it takes a little break. It gets darker in friendly way. You put your face up to the sky, feel the cold kiss your face and you just stand there and listen to the world close in on you a bit. You trick yourself into thinking, if you throw yourself down, the ground will feel soft like marshmallows. You feel like a little kid, no matter your age. And its magical.
Photo of Albany, New York, 2011 by Sebastien Barre.
*Speaking of Minnesota’s true character, I was reminded of two of my favorite Minnesotan movies – Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. These outtakes still crack me up. Anyone currently stuck in New York with a snow day should add these to their list.