Over the summer I shared that I've been making a point to slow down and savor the now, to actively capture special moments that I want to hang onto. Little everyday things I hope will bring a smile to my face when they pop back into my head ten, twenty, fifty years into the future.
This past weekend was one for the record books - both in terms of memories and in terms of nature, with Winter Storm Jonas (Brothers) dropping a whopping 26.8 inches of snow on New York City (just .01 short of the all-time high, aww, so close!). I wanted to jot down a few moments in an attempt to hang onto the goodness, for reasons of both sentimentality and pure psychological self-preservation. I know that by week's end, the snow will be pushed into dirty piles on the curbs and I'll be grouchily tramping to the office, grousing about the cold and it'll do me well to have a few fond snowy memories tucked away to get me through the rest of this godawful season.
I mean, this beautiful season! Oh it's happening already.
I don't think anyone really believed this storm would amount to anything, at least among my social circle. We've been burned in the past - notably last year when the city went on full lock-down only to get a light dusting - and didn't want to get our hopes up. Such jaded, cynical New Yorkers are we! So what a complete delight to wake up Saturday morning to a, and I'm really sorry, I know this phrase is absurd but I'm unashamedly going for it, winter wonderland.
The best thing about a snow day is how it takes a totally regular day and makes it into a holiday. Productivity be damned. To do lists, shredded. It's snowing! We'll have bloody marys at 10 am and read in our pajamas all morning and make a huge breakfast feast of cheesy eggs, bacon and french fries.
Snow calories don't count.
After a lazy morning of treats and snoozin', snoozin' and treats, Brian and I bundled to the gills and set out into the storm on a probably ill-advised quest to meet our friends for beers.
The walk was surreal. The governor had issued a ban on non-essential vehicles so the roads were entirely clear of cars. We walked right down the middle of Seventh Avenue, one of the main streets in the neighborhood. Around us a few other brave (stupid?) souls trekked along, and kids had turned the side streets into blocks-long sledding trails. It was so windy, we couldn't see 100 feet ahead of us, though we couldn't see anything really, the pelting snowflakes forced us to squint our eyes tiny or sometimes walk backwards and hope for the best. Utterly ridiculous to be out and about but it was worth the pain as we burst into the warm bar and shed our wet layers, pulling on dry socks and sweaters that Brian had packed for us and hauled down in his backpack.
Pro tip: marry an Eagle Scout.
The bar was packed! One of the only places open in the neighborhood, it became a home away from home for locals with cabing fever - the old time regulars who I'm pretty sure might actually live there, parents with little babies strapped to their chests, loud groups of 30-somethings, everyone sporting ridiculous layers on layers of all the warmest clothes they own, fashion schmashion. We cuddled up in a back booth and guzzled IPAs and one friend found a nearby restaurant that was also open and brought in wings and fries and onion rings and another procured a set of Cards Against Humanity and we spent our afternoon getting drunk with Midgets Shitting into Buckets and Vigilante Justice and Former President George W. Bush and Oprah Sobbing Alone into a Lean Cuisine. Best overall round: Stuff White People Like (Morgan Freeman's Voice, Sassy Black Ladies, Pretending to Care About Third World Countries, The Oscars, Selfies.)
After a few hours of building liquid corage, we packed up and trekked back home. The mile or so walk from the bar to our apartment was magical, and I mean that in the most earnest and sincere way. It was still snowing, but the wind had died down, so it gently fell in fat flakes around us. The city was absolutely silent and glowing in the streetlights.
We ran in the middle of the road and jumped into waist-high piles on the sidewalks and occaisionally passed other walkers but for many blocks we were the only two souls around.
Back home we draped our wet hats and gloves on the radiator to dry, ate macaroni and cheese in our PJs.
The snow stopped at some point while we were sleeping and when we woke this morning, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, the sun bouncing off of the drifts. We made eggs and french fries for breakfast (again!), pulled back on our layers, grabbed our sled and headed for the park.
A memory in a memory: a few years ago, when we were first living together on the other side of the park, there was another big weekend blizzard and while walking in the park after the snowfall stopped, Brian and I became jealous of the local youth whizzing by us on their sleds and decided we hadto join them. We searched the premesis for abandoned sleds (not technically stealing if some kid just left it there!) (Right?) but came up empty so we sprinted to the local hardware store and snagged the very last sled they had, a lime green plastic saucer, and sprinted back and spent the rest of the afternoon shredding the hills. It was the funnest.
Another pro tip: marry someone who brings out your child-like enthusiasm for adventure.
We hung onto that stupid sled and moved it with us from that apartment, which had not one but TWO spare bedrooms for us to stash our junk, to our current home which has one tiny closet to house our random nonsense, including the sled, and also a baseball bat, skateboard, old box fan, Christmas tree stand, two tool boxes, some curtains I'm never ever going to hang, four frisbees, etc.
But I digress.
The park was bumpin', with essentially every Brooklyn resident shaking out the wiggles after a day stuck inside. Brian steered us to a hill he'd discoved while running, a long steep slope winding through a wooded area off the main road, just wide enough for one person to sled at a time.
Alas, we weren't the only fans of this hill. A line had backed up at the top of the hill seven people deep, everyone waiting their turn on the slope, some more patiently than others.
"Why do we have to wait in line?? This isn't SCHOOL!" a kid in front of me griped.
We moved onto bigger and better, a favorite hill from our last sled outing, not as long but steeper and wider, allowing many sledders to go down at once. It was a wild mess. Everyone smashing into one another, sleds breaking, tweens stunting out by standing on their sleds or piling five bodies atop one another or holding hands and whipping one another down the hill. Brian and I took turns doing run after run and our friend Jeff, out for a jog, joined us for a few. Brian kept finding himself stuck in a divot at the bottom of the hill. Me, I kept crashing into small children. Every single run, without fail, I'd play it cautious at the top, wait until it seemed like I wouldn't crash into anyone and push off only to see out of the corner of my eye, a little kid scooting just ahead of me and I'd try to stop in time and fail and smash into the child, knocking them flat. And it was always a cute little one!! Never one of the nightmare twelve-year-olds doing backflips off his sno-tube, oh no. Always a tiny four-year-old who probably spent an hour gathering the courage to go on the big kids hill only to be crushed to death by a 31-year-old woman.
A mom did tell me she thought it was "so fun" that Brian and I were "enjoying ourselves even though we don't have children." She SEEMED sincere but upon further reflection that feels a little bit back-handed.
Blessedly she missed the moment where Jeff literally took out a child at the knees. To be fair, it was totally her fault! She broke the cardial sledding rule, which is that one does not walk horizontally across the middle of the hill whilst others are sledding. However, it's hard to keep rules in mind when a 6-foot-plus man in his 30's crashes into a child's legs and sends her flipping into the snow.
My only regret of the weekend is that I don't have this moment on tape.
After we'd had our fill of sledding we parted ways with Jeff and hiked around the park for a while, making friendly small talk with cross country skiiers and families out for a stroll and at one point we passed a friend's husband and young son, who I have met maybe once but recognize from instagram and said to Brian "I know that little boy!" and that wasn't creepy even a little tiny bit. We tramped back home and had soup and tea and laid on the couch for hours. I vaguely considered grocery shopping or yoga or laundry but then remembered, it was still a snow day. Productivity continue to be damned!
Now Brian's off at a buddy's house watching football and I'm tucked up under a blanket, eating a big bowl of cacio e pepe (snow day calories, remember?!), drinking red wine and listening to the Modern Love podcast. The streets are mostly plowed, but traffic is still sparse, the usual noise of busses and taxis and delivery trucks replaced by the occaisional slushy whoosh of a car driving slowly by.
Tomorrow reality will set back in and the snow will start to melt and winter will return again to being the worst so for now I'm going to sit here and sip my wine and soak up the silence and try my very best to remember this.