Friday, February 8, 2013

snow days.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.

--Robert Frost

On this grey and quiet day, I'm thinking back to other snow days I have known.

January, 1999.

This was the year the mayor of Toronto frantically called in the army. Just down the road, we Hamiltonians kept calm and carried on. We had something like three snow days in a row that winter; it just kept on tumbling out of the sky all week. Friday was the third day, I think. It was only a couple of weeks before my final round of final exams. I was finishing highschool a semester early, theoretically to EXPLORE and GROW but realistically to sleep late and slack off and drive around aimlessly with my boyfriend. (For the record, I regret nothing.) I spent those couple of days hunkered down in my bedroom, studying. For all my slackerish posturing, I was fundamentally a do-gooder kid. I liked school, and I liked writing papers, and I liked doing well. I felt excited and somewhat existential about finishing highschool, and I took advantage of the extra study time with academic enthusiasm and mild melancholy. I'd wander down to the kitchen every couple of hours, sit at the island with my brother and my mom, then wander back up to piles of books and notes and a Joni Mitchell record on my recently inherited turntable. I have always been a top-drawer hunkerer.

By Friday night I was ready for a change of scene. My boyfriend was playing a concert that night--he was a drummer and percussionist in the city-wide youth orchestra, and every year the Hamilton Philharmonic would invite someone from each section to play in one of their performances. That January evening it was his turn. By some strange miracle the concert hadn't been cancelled and so I met his mom downtown in front of Hamilton Place and we sat together. I don't remember what pieces they played, but I remember where I was sitting--Orchestra level, stage left--because it was the same section I'd sat in with my parents through a million Sunday Symphony concerts. I remember watching him on that stage, a stage I'd played and sung on many times in choir concerts and mass string orchestra versions of the William Tell Overture. I felt proud of him and also personally relieved, for once a member of the audience instead of a part of the performance.

After the concert, his mom dropped us off at a friend's place in Westdale. Because of the snow and the treacherous roads and also, probably, the fact that we were the teenage equivalent of an old married couple, I was allowed to stay over at his house that night. Later on we walked home over the King Street bridge, down Dundurn to York and on to Inchbury. It was so quiet and still. We held hands and shuffled along and leaned into one another as we'd been leaning for the last two years. It's a good feeling, to feel so familiar with a person, to walk silently down streets you know well, to leave a trail of footprints behind you.