Yesterday, I was walking down the street in Portland, Maine, trudging through the snow to get from one place with wireless Internet to another, pretty much as annoyed as anyone could get with how my day had gone down. And there was a man and his son in front of me, all bundled up in matching L.L.Bean parkas, making their way along the side of the road. The kid seemed fine, but the dad was kicking at the snow in frustration. “Why can’t you do fucking PLOWING,” he sang, out loud, and angrily, to the tune of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” “FUCK you for FAILING your JOB.” It was a little startling. I mean, I was irritated, sure, but not enough to belt out swears in front of a random kid — let alone my own. Curly McLain would surely not have approved — he was from Oklahoma.
First, let me just say, Portland is an adorable city, in winter and in summer, and it is certainly accustomed to dealing with the snow. These two, for example, were wearing high performance Gortex and had barely an inch of flesh exposed. They’d probably walked a block from their car, and when they returned home, they’d drive right into their warm garage — dropping their boots off in the mud room and going inside to sit by the fire, or at the very least to put their clothes in the dryer. (Which is a thing people have in other cities, FYI. In their homes. Also, sometimes they have fire.) So this guy didn’t really have a lot to complain about.
Anyway, when I finished work around six, I started checking Twitter and Facebook to see what my friends were up to. Almost all of them, to a man, were furiously trying to get back to New York.
Now, New York in a snowstorm is terrible, really. You can’t get anywhere, the city is completely incapable of handling its own cleanup, and nobody has sensible shoes or even coats. (Peacoats? Really? That’s like trying to keep your legs warm with a hoop skirt. The scarves we wear as fashion statements are about as protective as spiderwebs, and if you pay Marc Jacobs enough, they’ll look like them. And let’s not get started on the Ugg boot, which is about as water-retarding as a sponge.) You get cooped up in your tiny apartments, everything gets wet and muddy and then never dries, and your snot does that thing where it somehow rolls up the front of your nose and then freezes, rhinoceros-style — just on the three block walk to work! The news is filled with awful stories of people trapped on the subway for hours (the peeing! Augh, the peeing) and getting snowed into their homes. Compared to Portland, New York’s response to snow is childlike and even frightening.
And yet even though many of us were on vacation, everyone was desperate to get back. Why? The same reason everyone always wants to get back to New York: because it’s home, and because they didn’t want to miss anything. Sure, the sledding is better in Michigan, but isn’t there something particularly great about doing it in Central Park? There’s unparalleled cross-country skiing in New Hampshire — but wouldn’t you rather see someone do it up Fifth Avenue? It can be fun to be in the city in the blizzard. For once everything shuts up and you can hear yourself think!
And then there’s New Year’s this weekend. How many of you freaked out and rented a car when you heard you couldn’t get a flight back until next week? (Or, like I did, hopped the first bus headed south?) What are you going to do with all that Four Loko you stockpiled after January 1?
Anyway, even though I’m blogging from the freezing linoleum floor of South Station in Boston, where I had to fight through hordes of panicked people just to get off the bus this morning, all of this somehow warmed the cockles of my heart. And if there’s anything I enjoy over the cold winter holiday, it is a set of warm cockles. So thanks, everybody.