Thursday, January 27, 2011

New York minutes: January

As you may or may not have heard, it snowed a bunch last night. The streets were quiet this morning and it felt strange, like I was running really really late for work--the sidewalks are normally packed at 8:15. I was the only one from my department at work because, you know, that no one works in New York when there's a snowstorm. Or when it's Friday. Regardless, I welcomed the fresh fall of snow: it covered up all the old pee-holes and dog poop on the sidewalks, the garbage left over from the post-Christmas apocalyptic snowfall, the crusty gray snow in little melty piles against the buildings. It buried all the cars and colored the streets a nice slushy brown. But mostly I liked the way the snow clung to the tree branches.

I cut out of work early (at the insistence of my boss, promise) and decided to take a jaunt through Central Park to get a little "snow fix" because I miss seeing my yard at home covered in deep, fresh snow. I entered the park at 72nd street and headed east toward 5th avenue. There were LOTS of people who apparently had the same idea I did, and I sighed, berating myself for thinking that maybe some place in the city would be mercifully quiet and untouched. I promptly got lost, which was cool for about 5 minutes (because that was kind of my goal), until I really didn't know where I was. I walked and walked, confused at every turn, no map to guide my way, and anxious over the slippery, tamped down snow on the pathways. Word to the wise: if you're going to go for a snowy jaunt in Central Park, make sure you don't have a heavy bag on your shoulder, and make sure you go to the bathroom beforehand, because DAMMIT I HAD TO PEE. But fear not, this isn't a story when I pop a squat only to be passed by a group of French Canadian tourists and/or small children. No, no, I was just super uncomfortable for about 20 minutes, and by the time I made it out of the park I had begun ignoring the pains in my bladder.

So anyway, after wandering in a complete circle and feeling super disoriented for almost half an hour, I found a roadway that runs above 79th street and, after being momentarily elated, was of course immediately irritated. There were trucks and bobcats beeping all around (plow...back up...plow...back up) and LOTS of screaming children. It's funny, after finding the solace of being lost and not liking it, I found all the people and didn't like that either. I was frustrated with myself and I knew it was because I miss Massachusetts and my parents' house, the clean, white, widespread snowfalls that have been replaced with a mere 12 hours of sparkliness that turns to frozen gray shit. I miss the silence of the snow-heavy pines that bend ever so slightly in the wind. I stopped for awhile on Cedar Hill and watched all the kids sledding and throwing snowballs. There were couples holding hands and parents building snowmen. The sky was a dusty pink around the buildings beyond the park and the air was sharp and cold. I felt lonesome and yearned to be a kid again: I wanted to build a snowman in my front yard and have my mom call us in for dinnertime, shovel the driveway and play manhunt with the neighbors. I remembered that, in high school, my friend Catherine and I used to go sledding in a nearby park with some boys we had crushes on. Snow days were the best days to have snowball fights with the boys you liked, show them that you could roughhouse, but still scream with delight and fury when they stuffed snow down the back of your jacket.

And when I got back to my apartment I sat around for a little while, deciding on whether I would rather cry or eat (my two emotional go-tos). Then I remembered a big snowman I saw in Central Park: he had Red Bull cans for eyes and caution tape for a scarf, and a cigarette stuck in his mouth. And I laughed and thought: only in New York.

And it really is a wonderful city.

And I really am lucky and happy to be here.

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