Wednesday, December 14, 2005
My walk home...
I decided to walk home from work yesterday evening. What? you say. You don't understand if this is an impressive feat or a silly reference or simply me walking down the block to my apartment making it completely pointless to even mention. [Now, now. You know I wouldn't be writing this if it was completely pointless to mention...]
I work downtown, right near Government Center and State Street, down the street from Park Street and Downtown Crossing. In the Four Corners. You know what I'm talking about. And, as my little sidebar intro will tell you, I live in Cambridge. A bit of a hike, you say? Indeed. To give you an idea of the distance, it took me about an hour and a half to walk from my office to my apartment, at a regular strolling pace (not too fast, but not shuffling my feet either), with a short stop at a Starbuck's to grab some hot apple cider in the middle of my trek. A fair distance, to be sure.
Now that you've got that information straight in your head, I know the next thing you're thinking: um, December...in Boston...winter? cold? And you're right. It is most definitely winter...most definitely cold...it was around 15-20 degrees during my walk. Oh yes.
So we get to the last thought immediately popping into your head when you first read that I walked home from my office yesterday evening: She must be CRAZY!!!
Hehehe. And you're probably right. But let's move on from what you're thinking to what I was thinking (since I predict that is your next question for me).
I actually didn't mean to walk all the way home...it just sort of happened. [I know, I know, walking home for 1.5 hours in 20-degree weather doesn't just happen, right? Well, it happens to me. Let's not forget that I love winter and cold weather.]
When I left the office last night, I called a friend from college that I hadn't talked to in awhile. I was expecting to simply leave a voicemail message on her phone, because we rarely get to actually talk. In fact, we joke that we've become best friends with each other's voicemails since we seem to be so unavailable all the time. :) It's about a 5-minute walk to the T from my office, perfect amount of time to leave her a funny voicemail message that's just a little too long...my signature move on voicemail. But, instead of her voicemail, she actually picked up! Excitement! So we started talking, and I thought, "I can't get on the T right now, we haven't talked in ages!" So I decided to walk instead to the Park St station, with the intention of cutting the conversation off when I got there and resuming when I got off the T at Central.
But you know how these conversations go with someone you haven't talked to in awhile. There's so much to catch up on, so much to say, one topic leads to another, we get more excited about telling and hearing each other's stories...and then I just didn't want to get off the phone yet. Park St station came and went, and I continued on with the intention of getting on the T at Charles/MGH. I figured that'd be a good walk (especially since I wasn't 100% sure that I knew the way from Park St to Charles/MGH above ground so I figured I'd have a bit of getting lost time to add minutes to the conversation).
And then I was suddenly at Charles/MGH. [And I didn't get lost, let's hear a little applause, hey? That's quite a feat for me considering my track record for navigating above ground in this city...] I paused the conversation to ask my friend if it would be completely crazy of me to just walk all the way home. She said that as long as it was comfortable for me, she didn't see why not. [Wise words. And, let's be serious, I'm comfortable in single-degree weather with the right winter gear on, so I was set!]
So, I set off. The next stage in the journey, of course, was crossing the Longfellow Bridge into Cambridge. Walking over the river, all breezy and windy up there, potentially a lot colder than what it was merely on the ground. But, what the hay, right? I like cold. I was built for this kind of weather. I'm tough. And I decided I was all over this bridge. I can honestly say that I haven't experienced anything more beautiful in this city than the view from the Longfellow Bridge that night. My eyes actually started getting glossy, it moved me that much. Granted, I was talking on my cell as I walked and took in the view, but that didn't lessen at all the great and awesome power of this view. I've posted many times about this view...I see it everyday as I pass to and from work on the Red Line. But it's never been like this. I wasn't looking through a dirty train car window, first of all, so the images were clearer, sharper, more alive. I also can't see as much of the river when I'm on the T. There, last night, at the edge of the bridge, looking out over the Charles River at the John Hancock tower and the Pru, I saw the river turning to ice, with a section of water in the middle still lapping against ice already formed on the river. I saw an amazing bright and glowing view of the two towers and the lesser buildings surrounding them. I caught a bit of their reflections in what little water was left flowing in the river, mixed with the muted reflection of the building lights reflecting off of the ice that had formed over the rest of the river...the whole effect being the illusion of a light source emanating from the bottom of the river to help light my way across the bridge. It was breath-takingly beautiful. And the whole image was given the wintry touch when I saw my breath spilling out in front of me on the cold night air, blocking parts of my view for an instant as it moved on in the breeze flowing over the bridge and the river. And I think that's what made this picture complete. The atmosphere around me...the cold night air all around me, closing me in its wintry embrace. I love the arctic feeling of cold air filling the space around you as you walk with your warm wintry gear to protect you from the harshness of winter's cold world. It made the view from the bridge that night absolutely perfect. Better than anything I see from the T...at any time of day.
The rest of my walk home didn't really feel cold at all. I was full of an inner warmth from having experienced that view over the river. Sure, my fingers did start getting a bit stiff from the cold...hence the stopping by a Starbucks for a hot apple cider to keep my hands warm as I finished my walk home. But between the view from the Longfellow Bridge, the excitement of walking on a cold wintry night, and the cheery conversation with my friend over the phone, I sort of forgot that I should probably feel cold after walking for an hour and a half in 20-degree weather. [Huh. Oops.]
And, thinking back on that night, it was just what I needed to clear my head and feel alive and well and happy. Winter does that to me. It's refreshing. It's exciting. It's in my soul.
As I read back over this post, I realize that I mention quite a few effects from winter weather with a casual brush-aside sort of attitude. My fingers getting stiff from cold during my walk. The 20-degree weather I walked in. The chilling arctic breeze from the Charles as I crossed the Longfellow Bridge. And I can add a few things to the list: slipping along icy paths, the "frozen nostril effect," the numbness of my legs and toes by the time I got home. I realize, as I think back on the walk, that I take these all in stride...so much so that I forget they even happen. (I had to actually think hard to come up with that list of 3 that I added in this paragraph!) I actually enjoy all of these wintry effects. They come as part of the whole package. The way I see it, you can't truly enjoy cold winter weather without loving to some degree the numbness of limbs after extended periods in the old, that crazy "frozen nostril effect," the bone-chilling breezes that come during a walk in the cold night air, the ice slipping and subsequent reaction to correct for keeping balance. Anyone claiming to like winter, but not liking all of these small things associated with the season is merely a poser. I'm the real deal, man. 100% pure winter-lover. [Heh, I totally just made up another word to describe me. I'm on a roll tonight!]
[Turns out, I've never really analyzed to this extent why I like winter and cold weather so much. I'm not sure this post gives the complete answer either, but I feel oddly enlightened as to some of the workings of my brain surrounding my love of the cold...and in the end, that's the whole point of this blog, right?]