Last week I read an article about the blizzard of ’96, and given the other events happening…it was a nice diversion, a reason to remember. In 1996 I was pregnant with my first child, I had just bought a business, and I was working beyond crazy hours. The mile walk to work with what ended up being a 9.8 pound baby in my uterus was my “me time”. At my height, I was almost as wide as I was tall. Looking straight on, one might not be able to tell…but if I turned sideways, I could hear gasps or laughing, sometimes both.
I loved being pregnant and having my babies all to myself…but that winter, navigating the “snow alleys” on city street corners became a game of chess. The 4-6 foot high, one way “paths” between the street and sidewalk meant people had to walk single file…no room for negotiations. Aggressive New Yorkers would race to reach the middle first, making everyone coming towards them turn around. The problem was, with my backpack, big faux fur swing coat, and an extra large baby bump…I literally could not turnaround. Time and time again, Mr I Think I Am So Important Guy racing towards me swinging his briefcase like an exclamation point would stop in his tracks as I whipped opened my coat screaming STOP! I CANNOT TURN AROUND! They always stopped.
The first night of the blizzard of ’96 the mayor closed the city…the next day there would be little to no transportation and only essential workers should report work, it was a mandatory snow day. A time before everyone had home offices and the existence of pdfs…I was planning on a snuggle day with my guy…swoon. Sadly, my client had a different plan, excited about the thermal fax machine she purchased over the holidays, she was looking forward to working from home. She asked me to go into the office and fax her the most recent pages of a book I was designing. Sigh.
Early the next morning I waited and waited for the crosstown bus…my green coat turned heavy and white, and my Paddington hat (big red flower and all) was a dome of snow. I was becoming very grumpy. What was wrong with this woman? She knew I was extremely pregnant, she knew the city was closed. And just as I got a bit teary about having to walk…a phantom bus arrived…and across 23rd Street we slid. I got off at 5th Avenue and adjusted my internal compass, the snow was blinding, I found the Flatiron building but Madison Square Park was gone. Looking north I could see a few people skiing towards me. There were no sidewalks so I walked right up the center of 5th. The quiet, the quiet was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was literally just the sound of snow, untouched white snow. It was magical.
At the office I did what needed to get done and quickly headed out for my walk home. There would be plenty of time for cozy, and as a new business owner I had done the right thing. A beautiful experience…and because it was before we photographed every waking moment…it is only in my head, where it only gets better with time.