It was Winter 2018. I woke up one morning to find every roof, every road, covered with crispy, crunchy white snow. To a boy from Florida this is truly something remarkable. I remember getting my boots on and trudging through this snow in my wonderful little neighborhood. I took the side street down past the convenience store and walked to the little church near my house. There was a park across from the church. That was the park where I had read page after page of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. I walked past the house that had been converted into a modern art museum.
I think my mid-30s was the perfect time to live in a cold place. A younger version of myself would never have enjoyed it so much. A younger version of myself would have taken all of the frustration, the extra long commute to work, the time my clothes froze on their clothesline overnight, the time I slipped and bruised my ass, and would have thought of the beauty as secondary. A younger version of myself would have thought one day of it was romantic and would have been searching for an apartment someplace more tropical the next day.
In my mid-30s, I know that real romance and beauty always comes with its drawbacks, its hassles. If your fingers don’t go red and numb from cold then you haven’t touched real snow.
That’s not some romantic teenager talking, that is a man approaching middle age.
I’ve now seen Vienna snow, Tokyo snow, Las Cruces snow, even Nagasaki snow a few times…but I don’t think any kind of snow will compare to my Sendai snow. Why? Because I lived it as part of my everyday life there. It was constant the way the smell of the ocean is constant to a fisherman. It was not just the beauty, it was also the hassles.
A middle-aged me also knows that the world is somehow colder without the snow. Something about the snow that day took the cold out of the air. I can’t explain it, but I felt warmer than I had in a long time. I don’t think I ever really want to live someplace that snows all the time again, but I will remember the crunch underneath my boots and the feeling of warmth, bundled in my winter clothes.