My castmate Lindsay and I assessed the snow situation. There were cabs, but it was also such a short walk, and it didn’t seem worth spending money on the slippery ride. We witnessed cars skid through the intersection through the snowbank. Even the main roads still had close to a foot of snow on them. Fuck it all, we walked.
Wind to our back was our first victory. We passed slow moving snow-hoppers. Yes, it’s treacherous, but we’re not tourists, people. MOVE. IF YOU SLOW, THE SNOW WILL EAT YOU. We hopped along, ran at times, skipped and plowed through the new route home. I didn’t make the same mistake twice and we skipped the pseudo-shortcut through the park. We hiked down Ashland feeling like vikings.
As we continued west on Lawrence, I bid farewell to Lindsay, who had a date with her roommates and a full turkey dinner. I stopped at the grocery store–the new Mariano’s that gives gigs to jazz musicians during blizzards and houses people’s Super Bowl parties, as I discovered. After stockpiling my rations, I made my way out solo in the tundra again.
Weights on my arm, unshoveled sidewalks. I stepped into footprints and into undisturbed snowdrifts. I thought, “This is my last winter here.” And I thought, “When the hell have you ever hiked through a blizzard in the 16+ years you’ve lived here?”
I’ve been in Chicago over 16 years. I told my mom this when I last saw her and we did the math together.
“Wait, so we lived in Dayton for 17 years…” she calculated.
“And I was only there for ten, then I moved to Chicago. And I’ve been here longer than the town I grew up in.”
So as I hiked I tried to remember if I’d ever done anything like this in all the years I’ve lived here.
2002 March – While on my way to my internship at Kartemquin, I remember standing at California and Diversey waiting for a bus. I walked a bit because pre-smartphone era didn’t allow me to predict just how close I’d miss my ride. My skin hurt from the cold. Cheeks and nose burned in the wind.
Blizzard of 2011 – After a day of being pommeled with snow, some stir-crazy friends and I bussed down Western to warm up with beers at Quenchers. When I returned and walked back down my block, winter silencing movement of everything around me, the snow lined my path as if I was a giant walking through a white labyrinth.
But this. This was something I needed to take in and remember as something I would not experience again for a long long time.