The view outside my window shows that nor’easters might be overrated. There is a fine coating of fluffy snow on the ground. I live in a cul-de-sac, so the snow that has fallen so far remains pristine, almost delicate, like something with which you can knit lace. What the view outside my window doesn’t predict though is the fact that the unspoiled snow will soon be ruined by my mom’s car when she comes home with my brother in the next half hour. Nor does it know that most of the snow that will pummel the New York metropolitan area will not arrive when most of us are sound asleep, into the wee hours of this Thursday evening.
Judging from the doomsday reports I heard this afternoon on the television, the chances that I will make my Friday night flight back to Chicago tomorrow will be determined by natural forces beyond my control. I have four open tabs on my browser related to weather and flight tracking although at this point, it’s probably too early to tell whether my flight will be canceled or delayed. I place my faith in highway salt, efficient plow trucks, and New Jersey’s preparedness for natural disasters. This faith is potentially misguided but it is faith nonetheless. If anything, I will arrive to the airport prepared. I downloaded the latest issue of the New Yorker, made sure Crime and Punishment was on my Kindle app, and have plans to update my resume. That is, if my flight is not canceled altogether, which would be so inconvenient because there is likely a statistically-significant chance that I’ll have to fly instead at the dawn of Monday morning, miss the first day of classes, and arrive back in Chicago just in time to enjoy a large arctic air mass bringing a high temperature of -7 degrees Fahrenheit.
News outlets inform me that people everywhere are rushing to hardware stores and stocking up on shovels. The weather advisory I keep checking to see when the snow is supposed to stop advises people to stock up on water, food, and other emergency supplies in their car. I absorb this information with an air of incredulity. Yes, the airy snow combined with gusting winds will create blizzard-like conditions, and it’s probably not a great idea to go driving in these conditions, but at the end of the day, it’s just six to nine inches of snow.
I explain all this to my mother, who looks concerned. My flagrant disregard for nature’s destructive powers has that effect.
Perhaps it is because I have not experienced true hardship in the face of natural disasters that allows me to still view out-of-the-ordinary meteorological events as an event of novelty. It’s exciting when the power goes out, and you have the perfect opportunity to play board games in the dark. Watching the pine trees tilt sideways from hurricane-force winds can keep me occupied for a good fifteen minutes while the sound of a torrential, monsoon-like downpour falling on windowpanes and rooftops is just so, so soothing. While you won’t find me storm-chasing, I will run to catch a glimpse of an approaching tornado, just to see what it looks like, before fleeing in terror down into a windowless basement.
Natural disasters simultaneously captivate yet fail to impress me. But at the end of the day, I do not believe in letting weather derail my plans. Of course, the weather could not care less about what I do or don’t believe, so I am left sitting here, wondering what will happen when I wake up tomorrow morning. There’s a grandiosity to daring nature to do its worst or maybe it’s more foolishness because of course, at the end of the day, nature can easily win without much of a fight.
Yet I still roll my eyes when I read another headline about this raging storm while also crossing my fingers. I hope this combination of impertinence and reverence will let the air pressure systems work in my favor. Let the snow fall. Let it thrash wildly into windshields and faces, but also let it drift neatly into piles and let it collapse easily into shovels and melt compliantly into storm drains. Tomorrow morning, I want to see the snow crisp and untouched, but I also hope I can drag my suitcase across it. Think of it as an act of defiance.