Please, walk down the middle of the street this weekend

While the East Coast braces for winter storm Jonas Brothers and toddler-height snow accumulation, San Francisco is just laying back in the cut of perpetual dampness. Seriously, El Niño is one wet kid.

I know, I know. We need the water. Life-ending drought. Desert-inducing climate change. I know it all. And, yes, I’m eternally grateful for this year’s snow pack and the rising levels in local rivers and lakes. Thank you, clouds. Thank you, precipitation. You’ve been missed!

Still, there’s something undeniably thrilling about the collective anticipation of a really big blizzard. The rush to the grocery store, the stocking of booze, the planning of movies to watch and cookies to bake and pajamas to wear. These are good, simple pleasures.

However, my favorite part of any monster snowstorm comes the morning after the big wallop when the roads are still piled high and everyone’s hunkered down with hot cocoa and a book. That’s when I like to go for a walk right down the middle of a major street.

I remember one Nor’easter during my senior year of college. I don’t know how many inches we got or whether the storm had a cute name, but it was the kind of blizzard where everything that can close does close, and the world is whitewashed and briefly pristine.

I was staying with a friend in the Back Bay, and we woke up to a strange silence. The city’s usual soundtrack had all stayed home, and the snow seemed to muffle what little noise remained. Bundled up and in search of breakfast, we headed out into a city deserted. It was our private Boston—monochromatic and crunchy underfoot.

There were no cars to speak of, so we eschewed the sidewalks and forged a path down the middle of normally bustling Boylston Street, adventurers in a land of ice and snow, rebels casting off society’s rules and going where we damn well pleased. For a few glorious blocks I felt like I owned the city, like its wide roads and storied buildings were all mine. Like we were among the last people left after some sort of mild apocalypse, so why not traipse down the center of an urban thoroughfare? And who was gonna stop me, anyway?!

Yeah, it was a pretty fun walk.

So, if you’re in Washington, DC or Baltimore or anywhere else pummeled by the blizzard this weekend, take a break from the movie marathon or the 1,000-piece puzzle, suit up in something warm and waterproof, go find the biggest street you can. Then just walk down the middle of it. Do it for me. Do it for yourself. And enjoy the shit out of it.

 

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