Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 47 explores my love-hate relationship with New York City in winter.
I have a love-hate relationship with snow, I told a co-worker Wednesday. You have a love-hate relationship with New York City then, she replied without hesitation.
This is my third winter in New York City. When it comes to adapting to freezing weather I am still a rookie struggling to acclimate myself to the landscape before me. I wonder how New Yorkers thrive in this shit. On days like today, I feel like a block of ice, skidding from one place to another without any desire to linger and soak in the essence of the city.
It’s nine degrees outside my apartment. The wind chill is seven-below. I want to wrap myself in walrus fat and crawl into an igloo made of whale bones and hibernate till Spring.
Oh, and it’s supposed to snow today.
Snow took on a mythical air when I lived on the sultry, mosquito-infested bayous of south Louisiana. On those rare occasions weathermen promised white flakes falling from the sky almost all conversations revolved around the subject. Maybe everyone was drunk, and that explains their snow fascination. More likely it was the fact snow appeared once, maybe twice, a decade, shutting down schools in the process, and then departed as soon as it arrived. I crafted an infant snowman in my parent’s yard one Christmas. That was the most snow we ever received – enough to make a Baby Frosty.
These days, there’s no escaping the presence of snow in my life. Snow is like that person you begrudgingly say hello to at the office because you walk past them everyday. There are days when you think, I could be friends with this person. These fanciful thoughts dance in my head when I am indoors all day admiring the snow from a warm room. More often than not the thought of friendship with snowfall here is chalked up to lack of Vitamin D.
Gotham experienced its first noteworthy snowfall of 2015 on Tuesday. My walk to the gym along 31st Street in Queens offered me a window into the next 90 or so days. A man in a green Billionaire Boys Club hoodie tossed salt on the ground. Each step on the white carpeting that draped the sidewalks felt like traversing a landscape of rocks, pushing pebbles with my feet to clear a path. Every street corner presented unknown treachery. One wrong step and I would bust my ass on the Charmin-colored concrete. My ears and hands burned as if I had spazzed out while applying Icy Hot. The actual temperature hovered in the low 20s. The Real Feel temperature, whatever the hell that is, teetered above zero.
The locals have a word for this weather: Brick.
It’s two days later. Gone is the snow from the sidewalks. For now. Soon it will return. Last winter in Spanish Harlem snow caked the sidewalks in the same place like a squatter for months on end. It didn’t matter if it had snowed in the past five or six days. (Although it most likely had based on these statistics.) This ever-present scene played in my head like Groundhog’s Day as I walked to the subway, drowning out any promise of Spring.
Ah, Spring. That season of renewal, that season of motion and color. That season when my love-hate relationship with New York City swings back to love. It can’t come soon enough.