All I can say is there’s a lot of schadenfreude going on about our spending a winter in New York.
“You think this is bad? You’ll be going nuts in February. It’s called winter. Get used to it.”
“You’re going to be begging to get out of there.”
“Think you’re going to make it till April? Really?”
And so on. Now, wait a damned minute. My husband and I are hardened veterans of six very long and hard winters spent in Virginia (a place my parents routinely referred to as “the Northeast”). I suppose some people will hoot at that as not being sufficient preparation for a real winter, but let me assure you, it was viciously cold.
The first year, the fabled winter of 1977-78, we were victims of a terrible blizzard that left us stranded in our apartment for days. I almost lost my mind, being surrounded by a dirty sea of gold shag carpeting and an obnoxious Randy Newman album my husband insisted on playing again and again. People in Siberia might have it tough, but they never had to submit to the torture of “Short People” played at top volume, now did they?
Besides, we have been carefully building up a wardrobe of winter clothes for New York. Scarves, coats, boots. “I don’t care about fashion,” I told the highly uninterested shoe salesman at the nearby store. “I just want traction.” He nodded, deeply bored, and sold me fur-lined boots with soles like tractor tires. I plan to give them one chance: With God as my witness, if I slip on the ice at all, I’m taking up residence on our couch and won’t leave the apartment till May.
But — here‘s what’s strange. So far, our New York winter has been quite mild. (I know, I know. It’s not officially winter yet. Big deal. Let’s not quibble about details like the calendar when a greater narrative purpose is being served.) At the same time, it’s been snowing in Dallas and maybe even in Austin. My information comes, of course, from friends on Facebook.
All of which I would find amusing, ironic, you name it. Except for one tiny detail: We have a trip scheduled to Texas next week.
I can just see it. We’ll leave New York on a stunningly beautiful, clear, crisp day and arrive in Dallas in a blizzard. A blizzard in Texas is made up of a few errant snowflakes, which immediately causes schools to be canceled and weatherpeople to go into 24/7 crisis mode. People will be cleaning out the supermarkets, shopping for provisions like toilet paper and bourbon. Panic will reign. Cars will spin on the roads, since nobody has the slightest idea how to drive on ice.
Sometimes, even the prospect of snow can create scenes like this. I’ve seen it. I’ve participated in it. (Forget the toilet paper. I go straight for the bourbon.)
The more I think about it, the more I realize winters in New York are a snap. It’s the Texas winters you have to watch out for. This year, we’ll get some of both. Cut the schadenfreude and send us some bourbon.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts about living in a furnace