It snowed in New York City last night.
And in many other cities across the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. But I have personal memories of New York snow storms, so they matter with a capital “M.” That’s how we work, we humans. I have never forgotten my business school statistics professor teachings; people trust their own anecdotal experience over the most reliable of data.
I remember, in 1980 or ’81, snow fell and plenty of it. I lived on 104th Street near Riverside Drive. In fact it must have been ’81 or ’82, if I was no longer in my first tiny place at 69th and Central Park West.
Okay, in 1981 perhaps, a friend of mine lived around the corner from me on West End Avenue. The two of us dressed up in warm clothes and boots, walked to Riverside Park, and tromped around. We made tracks.
Even though by that point I’d lived in London, dated a movie star, found myself a job with a theater company, and bought an apartment, I still felt like a child. For reasons I cannot fathom even today, those snow-stompings felt like the first act of my adulthood. Perhaps because I’d never seen snow except in protective spaces. Where?
- Skiing in Sun Valley, Taos, and Alpine Meadows, with my family or a college boyfriend. I paid the boyfriend’s way, I should point out. An enormous component of privilege is its protection, for better or worse.
- On the paths and stone roofs of Princeton. It didn’t snow that often in New Jersey, but more than the San Francisco Bay Area, certainly.
- With some friends in a Swiss ski village. People wore fur-hooded parkas and spoke foreign languages. I did not, but my gang of male friends surrounded me and kept me safe.
To dress myself, then, leave through my own apartment building door, turn right, walk to the park with a friend, and stomp. The snow was clear and white. We threw some, but adults find frozen water down your neck – even of the fluffy variety – miserable. Unless you’re flirting. I suppose maybe later my friend and I ordered Chinese food delivery. That’s a grownup option.
I hope all of you in snow today enjoy the squeak of your boots, the hush. As Susan Champlin puts it, “I still can’t get over the thrill of snow—the prickly feeling on your face!” It’s both statistically possible and emotionally appealing that no two snowflakes are alike.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Images & Quotes
Mike Groll/AP via ABC News An institutional photo, one version of the experience.
NYReader photo of tree with hanging lights, here. A personal photo, a different experience altogether.
Zanosaurus, New York City at night.
Susan Champlin is here, and here.