When I was growing up, snowfall was a pretty divisive event in the Gunnison household. I always loved it (I was that kid who during the first snowstorm of the year ran outside insufficiently clothed, proceeded to dive head first into snow drifts for several hours, and then caught Strep a few days later). My dad grumbled about shoveling snow, driving in it, and tracking it inside. My mom imposed an anti-snow regime aimed at sparing me from risks of outdoor play such as “catching my death of cold”; being buried alive in towering snowdrifts; or getting run over by maniacal, overtired, underpaid plow operators with a penchant for maiming little snow angels like myself.
During the winters of my childhood Amoxicillin flowed like wine and my face stung from snowball shrapnel from November until March — but I was a tenacious little snow soldier. It would take far more than an unexpected blizzard to get my spirits down.
Cue last Monday morning, awakening after four hours in the sack to a prank e-mail (I will find the sender and I will take my revenge) and a midterm on Science Hill. Since I had been too cool to listen to weather forecasts all week, this hostile takeover of New Haven by the North Pole was a total shocker. My sweats and sweaters were in the wash. The closest thing I had to snow boots was a pair of vintage Adidas and cotton ankle socks. My entryway door was jammed shut thanks to a mutant snowdrift that took over half of the courtyard. Snow was not the only four-letter word running through my head.
I am famous among friends for being a mess magnet — if there is something that stains or sticks within five feet of me, it will end up all over my clothing and body. Imagine what a hazard snow provides. By the time I reached Commons my shoes were salt-stained and, true to form, there was snow melting in my hair, running down my back, and caked inside my socks. The whole experience was like walking through a giant margarita — hold the tequila.
All of the sidewalks in New Haven, and the roads for that matter, were so snow-smothered that the rare shoveled pathway had become a war zone: not the fun “snowball fight” kind, the “get out of my way or I will waste you” kind.
Walking down the now single-file High Street became a series of sidewalk face-offs. With every ungainly step came an opportunity to be tossed into a snow bank, elbowed out of coveted walkway space by formidable adversaries trying to get past (ranging from hockey-playing New Hampshire-ites to the undisputable champions of sidewalk wars, New Yorkers). If I had been the poor guy shoveling while getting smacked by Luis Vuitton bucket bags all day, I’d be going on strike, too.
The problem is, Yale Speed does not accommodate snow. You know what I’m talking about, the cross-campus speed-walk that defines the pace of everyday life for most of us. I think it was Eli Yale’s idea of a practical joke to make all of our walkways out of slate, because once the white stuff hits, your ass is grass if you move faster than a tiptoe. Thanks, Eli — nothing feels cooler than having about 15 spastic near-wipeouts in front of some sneering freshman girl whose shoes have better traction than yours — or whose behind defies the force of gravity.
In the wake of a blizzard like last Monday’s, you have two choices. You can choose to see the weather as a tragic obstacle between you and maximum efficiency. Or, you can take my advice: throw caution to the wind and run screaming through a few snowdrifts.
It’s no coincidence that every word can be made a little more fun by putting “snow” in front of it: snow DAY, snow CONE, snowBOARD — snowMAN. Go ahead, throw a snowball at the most put-together girl you can find just to see her melt down. Adopt Switzerland’s approach to getting through those long, cold blizzards: fondue and hot chocolate. Or adopt Russia’s approach to getting through those long, cold blizzards: vodka and vodka. Make a snow cone on your way to class. Or- add liquor to that snow cone and subtract the class.
As I sit here in my now soggy, smelly Adidas, for the first time since I was about eight I am about to go outdoors improperly clothed and frolic (you heard me) in the slippery, cold powder. Bring on the antibiotics, baby, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
Liz Gunnison is eight and a quarter years old.