Two weeks ago I spent most of a Saturday afternoon dodging snow bullets. Big, fat, wet flakes pummeled the Boston area for the better part of the day and into the evening. If it hadn’t been so wet, it would have qualified as “Charlie Brown snow” or, as Mels calls it, “engagement snow.” Mind this was the 30th of October we are talking about. Seeing that much winter that early in the season is rare even for us and, frankly, a frightening harbinger of things to come (think many early mornings spent breaking shovels in half while trying to dig your car out of crusty, rock-filled snowbanks; if you succeed, and make it out, someone else steals your spot or the ploughs fill it in again before you get home again later that evening.) Still, despite the fear and trepidation at the thought of another record-breaking Boston winter, I couldn’t help feeling that sense of wonder at a first snow. Something so clean and cheerful about it, so quiet as it falls. The trees, still laden with most of their leaves which are ironically very late in turning this year, couldn’t have handled anything more than the dusting they received by the end of the “storm,” and by Monday temps were back up near 70 degrees. I just don’t know, sometimes, about this city of mine. But I do know I love the way the snow looks against the wrought iron streetlamps, dusts the edges of the shopwindow awnings and how it fills in the cracks between the bricks on the sidewalks in my neighborhood.
Walking home that Saturday evening, I regressed a little and found myself face-up at the sky delighting in snow like angel’s ashes brushing my face and dusting my lashes. I flicked icy droplets from my sweater and marveled that winter seemed to have overtaken summer so seamlessly, and without warning. It was as if I’d slept through autumn which, as a child, had seemed to last forever and progress in degrees. What’s changed? Am I just too busy? Not busy enough? Have I become that boring, not to notice my favorite season, to fail to relish in the little pleasures of harvest times, mulled spices, vivid colors and clear mornings? Where had the days gone? Sadness replaced my light-hearted snow-scoping as I approached 102 Chandler, sometimes known as my home.
In my building, the lights had gone out in the common areas and so the only light guiding me up the somewhat warped and winding staircase came from an unseen skylight several stories above. Climbing that staircase that evening was like ascending out of a grave, or trying to. My apartment door was located halfway between darkness and silver-blue light, and I stood outside it for a moment with my hand on the lock feeling inexplicably nervous and little sick. Dead quiet in the building, no light, aware of the snow insulating the walls around me, and me soaking wet and confused about time. There was something existential in it, a sense of urgent anxiety welling up within me and pushing me to escape the beasts lurking on the stairs. Disoriented, I wrenched the key in the lock and fought my way into my four walls, flipped the light switch and stood with my back to the door, taking in the familiar details of my rooms, the little proofs that I had indeed been there before. That I was home.
Maybe you’ve never had moments like this. I personally hadn’t had one in a very long time. (more…)