When you are in the belly of the snow blizzard beast all you can think of is how much you hate snow and would actually almost move to Florida -- and then you are reminded that under all those Manhattan mountain snow drifts are the world's best restaurants, theaters, museums and stores and sanity is restored.
Here's the New York thing: through the periscope of your suddenly submerged submarine, staring out at the undulating drifts is like like watching the building of the Great Pyramids in 8X, accelerated TIVO time.
It's a miracle in the moment and if you hold your breath, a new wonder will appear in a child's second.
I remember, when I was four years old little, in Hollis, in Queens, watching the world (in this case my block, which felt like the world) through iced chiseled windows, drawing stick figures utilizing my thumb brush, warm breath technique on glass.
Sometimes I would write words backwards, like ME HELP hoping that someone would catch a passing by glimpse of it and come rescue me. That inner princess thing, thank God, does not have a long shelf life in little boys. It's just us identifying with our mothers, whose only refuge in those day's were organ scored soap operas, bottomless cartons of Raleigh Cigarettes and barrels of Sanka with the occasional dip into the personal stash of Hostess cupcakes.
But here I am all these years later looking out of the window, without any desire whatsoever to write help me.
Quite the opposite I think.
Now I look back and it all seems so quaint. Nostalgic even. It's like a favorite relative returns who has not aged a day. Out there is a world being tucked in by an overly ambitious day nurse. Everything is stark white. Like one massive MOMA exhibit of extreme minimalist painting framed by tastefully and proportionally by windows.
It's all perfect art. Perfect math. Perfect science. It's one large post-it note that says, "THIS IS WHERE YOU BELONG."
Everything merges in a cozy way here in this womb of endless reflection and retreat. The radio or TV is a soft murmur, a chatty flowing brook that reminds you that you are not alone, in any great town or city.
The officially sanctioned announcement to the masses is LIFE IS HAPPENING OUT THERE.
The language that comes spilling out of all our fancy ass 21st century transmission is really every bit as primitive as the clapping of those very first cell phones: the caveman rocks. To me it all sounds as personal as a confession. As deep as a whisper of concern.
It is so comforting to hear, that murmur. The incessant well intended THIS JUST IN BREAKING NEWS rambling quickly becomes a kind of symphonic interplay; a seasoned quartet of toss back and forth notes that are full of reason and import that are all easy to ignore but important to hear. This can be further enhanced, by gallantly waving your remote control like Rodrigo's baton, as you rhythmically leap from station to station, until Alice Tully quality sonics are fully achieved. Its very gratifying. (The thunderous applause in your skull now instructs you to bow fully in your pajamas to the rapturous shouts of Bravo!
It's the sounds that have the most meaning as a total counterbalance to all that astonishing quiet out there.
The wind speaks. loudly at times and then relaxes its diaphragm, as it readies itself for yet another soliloquy. Another solo. Another Follies-like proclamation that cries out with Judy Garland desperation, that "I'm still here."
If you are in apartment, you can hear the other human instruments, warming up, or blowing full force as the entire building becomes it's own Opus as well. The sounds of other people's lives are like jungle drums in the distance that communicate naturally to each other. Not unlike the dogs in "101 Dalmatians."
We are all in constant communication with each other simply by being. There is a kind of universal Morse code at work here. We send out signals just as readily as we accept them.
The all-knowing, all powerful computer OZ that sits on our laps and desks connect us as well. The weather makes the internet feel more precious and temporary; vulnerable in fact.
All those bright lights of the city could be extinguished at any given moment and that adds even more urgency to the reading and sending of emails...or the desperate need of online shopping at Macy's.
We do get to score our snow film days as well. And it can be really NPR eclectic: You can We go from, say, a late remorseful Beethoven string quartet right to to a Led Zeppelin album without skipping a beat.
We can stream like the snow: unpredictably. We get to be the best radio jocks on the planet.
We can also, while briefly entombed in our Major Tom snow capsules, invest ourselves fully into anything we choose to do. Or not to do.
We can make made passionate love, with or without a partner I suppose. All inflatable dolls are welcome.
We can leap head first into the pool of bottomless dreams or we can sample, like day Zombies, the endless buffet of TV that most of the time seems more like an understocked salad bar every day and Sonics. TV, with all it's seeming endless possibilities, in the end really is just endless and without virtually any possibility. Every channel is just another eager fledgling actress waiting...hoping...praying to be discovered and that alone infuses with kind of undeniable power. After all, you get to choose, like an ancient Roman who lives or dies. You get to act, in the moment, like Caligula..or Malala. That is so up to you.
I am suddenly reminded, that in the early days of TV, when the stations signed off at midnight, all the programming was replaced a sea of static that we called "snow."
They should have stuck with that programming because ultimately snow is a lot more fascinating than any episode of The Bachelor.
No matter what, snow, like national tragedy, pesky rain and meaningful sporting events unify us.
We are all riders of the storm doing exactly what everyone else is doing.
Living. Surviving. Reflecting. Closing our eyes, wiggling our socked in toes and waiting, like wishes, for tomorrow to come.