“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm In For Good

It's official.  I'm staying in until May.  The time of year has arrived when I would rather do nothing but snuggle under a blanket, drink what I call a Cozy Beverage, and never, ever leave my house.  The temperatures have dropped below freezing, the ground is covered with crunchiness, and the air zaps right through my several layers of warm clothing, through my skin and muscle, and invades my bones.  I expect to feel this way steadily for the next five months.  This is Western New York.

Many people loves this.  It invigorates them.  They get all trilly and tittery about the pretty snowfalls and the rockin' good winter sports.  I like the warm blankets and the Cozy Drinks, but here is what I most definitely do NOT like.

Everywhere you go, someone is ickily sick.  Phlegmy coughs and drippy noses and germs everywhere.  And because it's Western New York, there's no expectation that the weather will improve or that one's cold/flu will improve any time soon, so people go out like this.  They man-handle the carts at Target and they sneeze on the fruit at Wegmans and use the community credit card pens at every kiosk.  

My children get sick.  

Snow gets inside your socks and boots.  Your socks get wet and your feet stay cold.

My bones are cold and rattly.  I know I already mentioned it, but it's just so darn awful I had to say it again.

The sky is either miserably gray (90% of the time) or icy blue with a sunshine that lights up the miserably gray roads.  If the snow is melting, the grass underneath is brown and muddy.  Everything is pretty much the color of the crayons that nobody wants to use.

I can't just run out to my car to grab something.  Since the ground is all sloshy and full of icy puddles, even inside the garage, I have to put shoes on first.  

I can't just toss the kids in the car for a quick jaunt anywhere.  The complexity of preparing them for any outing is exhausting.  Coats, hats, mittens, and the boots--dear God, the boots.  "Push your foot!  PUSH!  PUSH!"  Maybe God intended for me to remember the pain of labor, or to recognize the frustration of super evil labor nurse (I'll never forget you, Barbara--I flipped you off with both fingers and I'd do it again).  

Driving.  The driving is horrible.  I do applaud Western New York's tremendous plow system.  Apparently, other parts of the country don't have monster trucks with monster scoopers and have no understanding of salt's great uses.  Just the same, Western New York drivers of every personality engage in an angry battle any time they take to the road in snowy weather (which is usually--we Buffalonians are generally undeterred by whiteouts, bluster, and zero visibility).  You've got your angry, aggressive drivers who go 80 miles per hour in the left lane regardless of their vehicle type, road conditions, and, worst of all, any other driver on the road.  Then there's the mindless drivers, who meander in their minivans, careening all over the place without regard for the existence of actual lanes.  There's the teenagers and the senior citizens, who are overconfident and have slow reflexes.  The tailgaters, who zoom up on your bumper when you're just trying to be cautious.  The overly cautious, who turn on their hazard lights and ride the shoulder and you're thinking, "But WHERE are you GOING???"  The tractor trailers, who think they know about driving in snow but don't, and end up jack-knifed in a ditch on the side of the highway.  And, of course, the idiots who don't belong in Western New York at all and end up stuck and stranded and IN THE WAY.

But me--I prefer the WNY summers.  Eighty or ninety degrees, the sun gleaming down on our Lake, tank tops and sunscreen, and busting out our pasty white Buffalo legs for some serious vitamin D.  I love our ice cream stands that take the boards off their windows and the hot dog stands with swinging picnic tables and the patio dining just about everywhere these days.  I love the color the leaves turn at twilight in the sun and the fact that I can step onto my back patio in my pajamas and bare feet in the morning and drink my coffee while listening to cicadas and some kind of cooing bird I've never bothered to identify.  I love the sound the leaves make in the light breeze and the fact that Buffalo beaches have the softest sand I've ever felt (and yes, I HAVE left Buffalo).  I love the way our air smells and that my sons' eyes sparkle a little more and their hair gets white blond on the crowns of their heads.  I love that we can all jump in the car with or without shoes, and go anywhere we want without having to spend fifteen minutes GEARING UP for bone-chilling cold and runny noses and phlegmy coughs.

I miss summer.  But I'd also really miss Buffalo if I ever left, because despite everything, it's home like no place else.

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