There’s something uplifting about watching your city endure a challenge like this past weekend’s storm, or last year’s blackout. To me, it comes from the same place as does the urge to root for the home team, except in this case i’m rooting for me. And my neighbors that i mostly don’t ever see or talk to. And the jerk that on most days would right-hook me into oblivion in the bike lane. On days like Friday, i’m rooting for us all to be on the side of civilization.
On Friday, we all (okay, most of us) got off the roads and went home like we were asked. We stocked up on groceries and booze (did we ever) and stayed in and cooked all sorts of elaborate things like the yuppie assholes we all were. Some holed up in skyscraper apartments and had the Prudential mall all to themselves. Others went outside on snowboards, skis, or bicycles. My sister and brother-in-law went and kept my mom company, knowing that the power would go out, because they’re better people than i am. Obviously the girl and i went out and drank, but we made friends and applauded strangers for walking into the bar and out of the snow, and left crazy big tips for the wonderful people who poured us beer and made us food. But the important thing is, we all stayed the hell off the streets and let the first-responders and plows do their thing.
And our reward on Saturday was a giant, bounteous fluffy coating of snow. And even though it was cold as heck and extremely windy, people were out. It seemed like everybody was out. First, a few organized souls attacked sidewalks and cars. A few were out driving before Deval said it was okay. No one could really figure out why. We shoveled the girl’s aged landlord’s sidewalk, i pushed a minivan down a thickly coated North End street, and everybody gawped at the sheer volume of it all, the unreality of it.
Piles of snow taller than i am, some not even from plows. Minor streets completely untouched under two feet. Major streets perfectly driveable, but utterly empty but for pedestrians. Hanover Street with almost everything closed. Walking into snowdrifted Big Dig tunnels. Few cars, but people, people everywhere, in awe of it. A snow day for everyone, liberated from the need, indeed the ability, to do anything but go out and enjoy it. The Common was completely inundated with rosy-faced citizens, with sleds, skis, snowboards, and whatever careening down the hill up and over ramps and across sidewalks. Nowhere to get hot chocolate, even, even as a 10˚ wind chill attempted to you it wasn’t really playtime weather.
And of course it’s sad that a couple people died from CO poisoning, something seemingly so preventable by comparison with a monumental snowstorm. And it sucks that the T struggled to get back up and running. And it sucks that some of those inundated streets are still not plowed yet.
But what warms the cockles of my heart is that we reasonable people all managed to handle something challenging in a reasonable way, and in most respects succeeded. Not to say things are put back right yet, and not to say it doesn’t highlight things we wish could be improved, but generally speaking, even though we’re big drama queens about it, maybe the old New England resolve isn’t dead after all.