Lacy white flakes fell from the morning sky and covered my black quilted jacket. The first snowfall of the winter looked like fluffy cotton on the bare trees lining the avenue. The green traffic light, along with the red tail lights glowing from cars as they passed by heading west, and the bright headlights travelling east all gave a winter wonderland feel to the morning. And it was exhilarating. For me.
The scowls and squinted eyes on the women and men who made this trek everyday of their working lives told me they weren’t enjoying this morning walk. The commuters put one foot in front of the other and trudged on to the train planting footprints in the virgin snow. They were careful not to slip on the wet pavement. I was just as cautious, but drew a deep breath to ingest the crisp winter air.
Approaching the train station, I spotted the 8:15 waiting, its doors open. The commuters ran, caution blown, but I had time and I wasn’t up for an aerobic rush. The 8:29 was what I’d planned on taking, so I continued to enjoy my stroll walking off the 70 calorie waffle I’d had for breakfast. The 100 calories of freshly ground peanut butter would have to wait for later.
As I sat in the station’s warm waiting room a garbled announcement broke the silent air: “All trains from Secaucus to Penn Station are running 30 minutes late.” My elated mood dropped, but I caught it before it hit the basement and told myself to hold on to the calm. It didn’t matter; I always arrived in the city 40 minutes early anyway. My fiction workshop didn’t begin ‘til ten. I had plenty of time.
The train arrived and I found a seat, pulled out a classmate’s story I was supposed to critique and lost myself in her metaphors. Twenty minutes later I gathered my papers and bag, walked to the front of the car and exited. I made the transfer from Secaucus to New York without a problem - the announcement must have been wrong. And then, 10 minutes later the train pulled in to Penn Station everything changed.
Hordes of people crammed the exit doors, rushed the escalator, heels clicking as they ran up two steps at a time. I kept telling myself I could walk, there’s no hurry, but I couldn’t help getting caught in the flux. And then I hit the air.
Wet dirty stuff (can’t call it snow) fell from the sky and soaked my jacket. I stepped over slushy puddles and backed away as a bus zoomed down 34th Street splashing filthy water on my boots. A fire engine’s roar pierced the air, adding to the cacophony. What happened to my lacy snowflakes? To my winter wonderland? I suppose I need a walk in Central Park. Actually…we all need a walk in Central Park.