So this afternoon I brought the eighth-grader home from school, and an hour later turned around to bring her to a friend's house for the night. Except during that hour between getting home and needing to leave, the storm at the top of the hill had morphed from steady-but-manageable-rain to crazy-downpour-from-the-apocalypse-complete-with-perfectly-sideways-blowing-wind.
Still, what can you do? The kid's got to get down the hill.
I opened the front door and braced myself against the wind. "Ready to make a run for it?" I asked.
If eye-rolling could make a sound, there would have been a deafening one at our front door right then.
I sprinted full speed toward the car. Maya walked.
"What you think is bad I think is just rain," she said as she got into the car. "And you're from New York! And you lived in Iowa!"
Damned individuation process. If an obvious example of a mother's stupidity doesn't immediately present itself, you can always count on a thirteen-year-old daughter to create one.
"This is cold rain," I said. "New York and Iowa didn't have cold rain. You got warm rain or you got snow. At least with snow you had something good to show for it in the end. Here, we just get leaking windows."
Right. I know. I romanticize. And all of you on the East Coast and in the Midwest are probably thinking, "Yeah, yeah, Calfornia girl. Show me one good thing about snow this winter." But what can I say? I like snow. Even when I had to live with it all winter I liked it. I grew up in New York, went to college in Chicago, and did graduate school in Iowa. When you've grown up in those states, winter isn't winter without snow. Some of my best memories from childhood involve waking up in the morning to find a thick blanket of snow covering the neighborhood, and running to the crackly transistor radio in the kitchen to learn that we were having a snow day. And some of my best adolescent memories involve Ski Club nights where my hands and feet and nose were so cold as the ski lift raised us into the black sky, with the mountain gleaming spotlight-white beneath us, and the bone-cracking cold went so deep it skewed all perspective, so that by the time you got to the top you'd be wondering if it would be possible to ever feel sufficiently warm again.
This is the first winter in ... actually, I think the first winter ever where I won't see snow. Unless you count whatever was still left on the ground in Washington, DC, earlier this month when I was there for a conference and saw glimpses of it speeding by through the window of a cab to and from Dulles. Normally this is the weekend, over President's Day, when we might take the girls to see snow or even, in a particularly good financial year, go skiing for two days. But I'm working triple time this winter, and we just returned in mid-January from the three-week Monster Trip of the Decade to Israel and Rome, so we won't be going anywhere for a good, long time.
So, snow. I miss you hugely. I miss the way you used to turn brownstone steps into shapeless mounds in New York. I miss the way you required us to crank up the forced steam heat in old Chicago apartment buildings and how the radiators used to hiss and clank all day.
Ice, I even miss you, and the way you encase tree branches in Iowa like elongated crystal fingers. I loved the way you made me stay inside for a whole day (or three) emerging only to gingerly pick my way down the center of the street to get a carton of milk at the corner market because the roads weren't safe to drive.
Of course, back then I was single and rarely had any place I absolutely had to go. And certainly nobody who was depending on me for transportation. Now I have a floor of 43 degrees in February, rain that nonetheless feels too cold, and a mad dash to the car while a thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes.
She's right. It's just rain. Not snow. Just rain. And 43 isn't cold, unless you're naked. Or coffee.
California: you're making a wimp out of me.