Last you heard from me, I was typing to keep myself awake as I waited for a car to take me to the airport. The car showed up on time, although I stepped in a snow drift up to my knees as I tried to make it to the street to get in. The ride went smoothly; there was no ice on the roads and the streets were nearly empty. However, when I got to LaGuardia at about 3:30 am it was already crowded. People were sleeping against the walls, wrapped in towels and jackets, or huddled over their luggage in the three lines. I got in the self check in line, expecting to just print off my boarding pass and drop off my bag. However, as the line slowly trudged forward and people didn’t seem to understand that they could use any of the available machines, I soon found I was in the wrong line for the 6 am Atlanta flight and was told to go to the other end of the Delta terminal. There was no line for the machines there, so I printed off my boarding pass and looked around for the baggage drop. It turned out there was no separate baggage drop line and I had to get in the line of about 80 people who were checking in or trying to get on a flight after being delayed by the snow. Every staff member was incredibly unhelpful, with no one confirming that I was actually in the right line. And it was more of a mob than a line, and it wasn’t moving at all. Finally, the Delta people started shouting out flight numbers and you had to shoot your hand up in the air. Then, they would point to you, and you could get in a special line. If you dared to get in the special line without being called, you were severely scolded. I did finally get in the special line and got a “6 am” orange tag on my bag and then waited for about half an hour for an agent. What a relief when I finally got the tag on my luggage and was able to go through security! Security had no line, because everyone was stuck checking in. I’ve never so desperately wished I had brought carry-on luggage. Anyway, my flights went smoothly and I am now in Oklahoma City. But you probably want to hear about the snow that helped cause the insanity at LaGuardia, right?
Saturday there was snow. Lots of snow. It started falling just as I left my apartment to meet Elizabeth and Eszter at the Brooklyn Lyceum holiday market. I took shelter in a coffee shop, where one of the barista’s pointed out that I was reading the suddenly appropriate Snow by Orhan Pamuk. It was like living the literature! The snow was blowing horizontal on the street and felt like little ice knives on our faces as we walked around Park Slope. I was tempted to buy a necklace depicting a whale capsizing a boat, but I’m resisting purchases until January.
The snow kept falling, and after some brief holiday shopping in SoHo we retreated to Elizabeth’s apartment in the East Village. We checked in on City Drive Live, the cameras always showing live images from Times Square and other places in New York, and saw the snow starting the pile up as the night brought the colder weather. At around 1 am, I finally decided to go back to Brooklyn and stepped out into an East Village that could have been mistaken for a street in Geneva. Most of the snow was untouched and few people were out. Above, you can see Astor Place. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it was still snowing.
Although it may be surprising for people not from Oklahoma, I really did see a lot of snow growing up in Bartlesville. And I love snowboarding and generally think all cities and landscapes are improved in beauty with snow. However, walking to the subway that night while it was still windy and snowing was freezing and I spent the better part of the subway ride trying to dry off my scarf and scrape the ice from my gloves.
When I got back to my neighborhood my footprints were the first to mark the snow on my apartment steps. It was still snowing when I finally fell asleep.
When I woke up, I felt some of the same excitement I used to have as a kid, eager to see the way the snow had changed my world before it was marred by cars and people. I put on as many warm clothes as I could layer and headed out to the street, where my footsteps were still the only ones on the stairs, although they had been partly filled in by the last of the snow.
I first headed to Green-Wood Cemetery, remembering how amazing Père Lachaise was when it snowed in Paris (I’ll forget momentarily that that story ends with me accidentally getting locked in the cemetery). Unfortunately, Green-Wood was closed, so I walked around the perimeter a little before going into Manhattan to meet Elizabeth in the East Village.
It wasn’t as dreamlike as when I’d left it the night before, but there was still plenty of snow in the East Village. I feel bad for the people who had to try to get their cars out from the snow banks created by the plows.
We decided to go exploring, and I was immediately glad I’d worn my waterproof boots as the snow at the intersections was melting into slushy, gray piles under the car tires and pedestrians.
The snow didn’t stop people from coming out, although people in the East Village seemed to have two fashion approaches to it. One was to wear absolutely everything remotely warm, resulting in little ability for movement. The other was to dress like it was any other day and pretend there was no snow, resulting in wet skinny jeans.
We took the train up to the New York Public Library and saw the snow covering the regal lions.
Then we went around to Bryant Park, where the snow had made the temporary holiday village and decorations even more charming.
The Christmas tree in Bryant Park also had some snow on its branches and it was ringed by people getting their photos taken, probably for next year’s Christmas cards. The ice skating rink was also packed and people were building miniature snowmen around the park.
We then walked up 5th Avenue to Rockefeller Center, which was just as insane as any other holiday day. We even got to witness a woman meandering in front of a bus, to which the NYPD traffic director said: “Ma’am!!! There’s a bus behind you! You almost got hit by a bus! OH MY GOD!!”
We took a break and got a coffee inside and then walked to Central Park. It seemed like everyone, whether tourist or New Yorker, was there building snowmen, sledding, or marveling at the snowy trees as if they were in Narnia.
If I had worn waterproof gloves, I would have built a snowman myself, but we just admired other people’s work. Some of the snowmen had jackets and pipes, and this one had a lovely hat made of leaves.
Surprisingly, I only saw one person fall on the ice, and surprisingly it wasn’t me. I guess I’m somewhat balanced, but I’m also terribly accident prone. We also saw some people unwisely thinking of walking on the ice over the above pond. Luckily, they changed their mind.
There was a little mouse scampering over the snow, probably looking for somewhere to hide, that was being stalked by a horde of photographers. Look, I think I found some of those photographs on flickr. It isn’t the celebrities that get the most paparazzi in New York, it’s the rare wildlife. I hope this mouse survived his day in the spotlight. As you can see if you look at other people’s pictures, people actually picked the mouse up. Probably the same people who would freak the hell out if they saw the same mouse in their kitchen.
Our last stop in Central Park was Bethesda Terrace, where the angel on the fountain was surrounded by snow and people. I especially liked the St. Bernard dog that you can see in this picture, who was probably having the best day of his year. How did that poor dog make it through August? Well, he had no brandy around his neck so we decided to head back to the East Village.
On the way out of the park, we heard this saxophone player adding improv to some holiday songs and just down the path there was a choir. I imagine they make a lot more money when people have the holiday spirit spurred in their hearts by the snow. After the park, we had soup and apple cider at Elizabeth’s apartment and then I went home, stayed up all night, and got the car to the airport. You know what happens after that. The end of the story is I didn’t go to sleep until Monday night.