How the Cold Will Unite Us All
It’s supposed to reach a high of 40 degrees today in New York City. My use of the word “high” is in no way sarcastic considering that the daily standard has become like, negative zero (insert everyone in Canada, Michigan, Maine — anywhere significantly colder, really — rolling their eyes), but 40 degrees is actually going to feel like Spring Break.
Oddly enough, this respite from the urban tundra isn’t comforting me the way it might have a week or two ago. Would I prefer sunshine and daisies and jorts and Rocket Pops over icicle boogers? Yes. But I’ve also recently found a strange solace in the snow globe this city has become, mostly because I truly believe the cold is uniting us all.
New Yorkers love to complain. New Yorkers also love that which is new. This cold ass weather has given us something new(ish) to complain about in comparison to all the other worn out things we lament over (building juice, poor subway etiquette, smells, sidewalk lingerers with clipboards and petitions). It gives all of us something in common, which is a rarity in this city that houses such a multitude of backgrounds, personalities, opinions and neighborhoods.
Where we typically avoid eye contact with strangers because it tends to signal A) that you’re going to mug them B) that they’re going to mug you or C) one of you needs to mind your own business, now it’s become completely acceptable to nod at the unknown human walking toward you solely out of frozen solidarity. “Carry on, soldier,” we’re saying to one another. “I sincerely hope your nose does not fall off.”
Ice-slicked sidewalks have made walking an Olympic endeavor; I believe that without exaggeration I’ve seen at least 5 people slip and fall this week. Huffington Post has documented a few that I myself did not see, but what the photos failed to show is the compassion that followed, because for every slip and trip I’ve witnessed, a stranger offered his or her hand to help.
Just last week I ate proverbial shit over a trick pile of snow and a really kind French couple picked me up. But had my fall occurred during the summer, limbs splayed out, face down like a starfish on the sidewalk, someone would have yelled at me for blocking foot traffic and everyone else would’ve stepped over my body, grumbling about “kids these days.”
I essentially went to college in Antarctica. It was a small university in a tiny town with not a whole lot to do, and yet the school pride was (and remains) completely unrivaled to anything I’ve ever witnessed. And funny enough, I have a very clear memory of some local paper saying that it was the freezing cold and long, hard winters that partially accounted for our bond.
Maybe it’s bullshit, but it also may just get me through February.