On Sunday, I put up my precious and most-beloved village, and saw snowflakes. For a few minutes, snow was there, and I watched at the window thinking it was an illusion. As nonchalantly as it started, it stopped. In that moment, I missed Illinois more than I can say.
I had a memory of standing in Ann's apartment in Hyde Park near the University of Chicago watching the snow pile up, later walking in our wool coats and leather boots to the Medici for a bowl of ravioli, and later watching Roman Holiday on her tiny TV as the snow continued to fall past the streetlights.
Until I moved to Oregon ten years ago, snow was a major part of my life. It's a major part of most Midwesterners' lives, really. There's a sort of camaraderie snow engenders that rain doesn't inspire. Snow seemed to unite us. I walked to Keystone Park with my pom-pom topped skates over my shoulder most Sundays. I'd meet Monica at the end of my street. At school she acknowledged me if necessary, but back in our neighborhood we had a secret, simpler life we rarely discussed beyond its borders. Underneath our jeans we'd wear long underwear, two pairs of socks. At the park, they'd plow the snow into stout, frozen berms and then flood the big field, adding layer after layer of ice. We'd change into our skates in the old warming house then skate for hours and hours, practicing figures, chasing and fleeing, learning to spin, thinking up complicated routines and judging each other harshly for our efforts. We were not good, and neither of us had ever had a lesson, but we skated in that park every winter for years. Behind the huge, gnarled oak trees of our old, pretty town the sun set low and glowing. It was so, so cold. I'd walk home as it was getting dark, and the house would be dark and very warm, my mom making sauce, my dad smoking and watching Channel 11. I'd stand at the sink, frozen-cheeked and wild-eyed, and run my hands under warm water until I could feel my fingers again. Then I'd stand there, still and warming, until someone told me to shut the water off already, and move along.