As an adult, anticipation is everywhere. Will I get a second interview? Will I get this article accepted? Will this date be something? Will the express train get here before the local? Will this gastropub be as good as the Yelp reviews? Indeed, nothing is more exciting than possibility, and the average adult should be constantly seeking situations where possibility is present. As a kid, though, since your life is limited, there are two key times every year where that joyous/nervous feeling of anticipation invades your being and bubbles up through your stomach to your thoughts, making it impossible to sleep. The first is Christmas Eve. The second is the night before a snow day.
I was lucky enough to grow up in an area where it snowed enough to have snow days pretty frequently, but didn’t snow enough for people to adapt to snow culture. Thus, an amount of snow that people in the Midwest would call a light dusting would lead to a two-hour delay, and generally anything above four inches would result in a full closure. In the 914 area code, everyone under the age of 16 would don pajamas inside out so as to summon down the snow from above, do a snow dance – aka some spasmodic jump twirl – around the bedroom, and leave homework unfinished. At some ungodly witching hour, while visions of afternoon television and Cheez-Doodles danced in our sleeping heads, the Superintendent and Mother Nature would decide whether or not the schools would open. It’s important to note that anyone age 16 or above hated a snow day because it meant being stuck inside with the parental units all day. We’d run downstairs to the living room as early as possible and turn on News 12, staring at the ribbon of school names and closures that ran across the bottom of the screen. When your school popped up, there was generally a lot of elated screaming, and then a mad dash to get back into bed.
Snow days involved all manner of junk food, riding a tray down the driveway, hot chocolate, and AIM. The Newlywed Game. Double pants. Snowmen, angels, and the always-in-vain attempt at an igloo. There were the five minutes of helping to shovel the driveway followed by a surreptitious re-entry into the house to “change my gloves” that managed to take twelve seconds longer than the actual shoveling. Snow days were a rare time to break free of the 13 year routine known as compulsory education, and, in a way, they were liberating: No pressure of seeing a crush, wondering what you were going to do after school, having to get dressed. You didn’t have to be anything on a snow day except properly dressed and a kid.
Snow days as an adult, on the other hand, are fucking horrible.
First of all, there’s zero anticipation about the amount of snow or what it’s going to look like because when the weather is anything out of the 55-75 range, people are going to make it their status update. They’re going to screenshot their weather app (#omg #polarvortex, #brick, #notaboutthatlife, #howmanydaystillsummer), and make some uninspired simile about breath. Then, once the powder starts to fall from the sky, we’re going to get over-filtered snow-related Insta-images (#guilty), not to mention the slew of selfies of bundled-up babes. WE GET IT: YOU HAVE TWO SCARVES ON!
Second of all, snow days generally happen in January, which is the month during which everyone is going hard on the health thing. This will disappate around the time that Valentine’s Day candy gets reduced by 75%. There is nothing fun about running a fast 5k in the morning, eating a balanced meal in the afternoon, and then sitting around for the entirety of the snow-induced lockdown asking your roommates to hide your phone so you don’t order Chinese food. Of course, what this leads to is a big salad for dinner, a really long nap, and finally snapping at quarter to midnight, at which point you trek four blocks to McDonald’s to get chicken nuggets and an Oreo McFlurry. I mean, that’s what happened in my apartment.
But the real reason that snow days as an adult are tragic, especially in a city, is that they make you truly focus on the fact that you’re not as cool as you think you are. See, people have this idea that denizens of urban areas are packed to the gills with activities and energy, running from place to place to meet the demands of our full schedules, chugging Red Bull on the subway between costume changes and Tweets. This is true. But it’s less because of swanky soirees and endless enjoyment than it is overly long workdays for disproportionately low fiscal recompense, of super-slow subways and crippling cold, of fatigue because of poor diet and loud neighbors. Being stuck inside gives you time to realize that all that running around is largely for naught, and that unless you form part of the .001% of the population who truly is switching gowns in the back of a limo between swanky soirees, you’re essentially packing your days with unnecessarily stressful activities to give yourself the impression that you’re living the dream, whereas in reality a large part of it is a nightmare.
A snow day is a time to stop pretending that running to a certain Duane Reade on the opposite side of town and then having drinks with a co-worker before dashing uptown before the post office closes to pick up a package with the Ikea sale sheets you ordered three weeks ago constitutes a full life. It’s a busy and errand-filled life, sure, but what are we really doing? What percentage of our lives is spent doing things that we truly want to do, and what percentage is filled with activities that fit the profile for Essential Urban Living? A snow day is a time to take off the double scarves, stop taking selfies, and actually look at yourself, unfiltered, unenhanced, and unencumbered by frivolous frolicking. To sit around having a hot chocolate, see yourself reflected in the same snow you saw as a kid and to remember what you wanted to be when you grew up.