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Ice capades

December 28, 2000

 

Another backdated entry. And... (drumroll)... I'm online here in the UK finally! Entries after this will no doubt be packed with all my complaints about English business habits and Why They Aren't a Great Capitalism Superpower.

 

Anyway...

 

Boxing Day... what the hell is it? I don't know, but one thing's for sure: Sunset was spectacular, up on a hill in Coventry looking out over the winter Midlands countryside -- usually a patchwork of green partitioned with runners of grey rock walls and speckled most of the time with white fluffy sheep... and now, dark and dusky with salmon-pink streaks glowing above, and glowing blue-grey clouds.

 

And it is chilly! Walking home late that night to Ash's mum's place, just a few blocks from Ash's sister Julia's where we spent much of the evening, I was in utter awe of the glittering, ice-frosted lawns! It looked exactly like some rascally teenaged girl (or maybe it was Amber?) had sprinkled her body glitter all over every lawn, every hedge, every scraggly half-dead flowerbed. Every parked car we passed had a sparkling, glittering layer of ice which caught the streetlights like a beaded gown spread over its roof. I stop at every one, gasping with delight, and Ash takes a moment to try and ignore the freezing cold, and see the beauty of a sight he's ignored a thousand times in favor of expediting reaching the heated indoors. Our breath in steamy clouds, he laughs and hugs me as I exclaim over and over, "It's so beautiful!" We snuggle extra closely under the warm duvet that night at Ash's mum's house. 

 

At 7am I awaken to my cell phone ringing, but by the time I've sleepily worked out the details (that's my phone... only important people have this number... it's just before bedtime in California, the ideal time to call England... as I lay here contemplating this my house in S.F. is probably burning down...), it's stopped. I manage to have the phone in my hand, analyzing in half-sleep the glowing face -- what does it say? What does it mean? -- as it rings again, announcing voicemail.

 

The battery's nearly dead, but I hear a boisterous, "SQUIDDLEY-DEE! I MISS YOU!!!!!", which could only be Gina! -and then, BOOP. Battery's dead, and the room's just as quiet as before, a dingy orange-grey of early dawn... and I toss the phone onto a pile of clothes and lie back down next to Ash, thinking of my best pal back in California.

 

9am and I awaken again, this time to bright sunlight and two mugs of steaming tea next to the bed, which Ash's mum has just left. I can hear her dancing back down the hallway, singing, "...Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..." I've been hearing the same friggin' Christmas songs for weeks now, shopping around Cambridge. But I've never heard Ash's mum sing Christmas songs! Could it be -?

 

"Look outsi-iide," I hear her singing, as if that were in the lyrics. I got up and went around to the window, balancing on a stack of Ash's clothes and christmas presents, to look out the front of the house. Sure enough, everything is covered with a soft blanket of white, white, white! All the cars that drive past are piled tall in silly puffy coats, driving slowly and dropping floaty chunks of powder every which way.

 

As we prepared to leave, I walked around in circles in the snow. "Scrinch. Scrinch. Scrinch." There's a sound snow makes when you step on it that's halfway between a "crunch" and a "squeak". Cool.

 

If you're groaning with boredom, let me remind you that I'm first generation Californian, born and raised in a temperate climate wherein "snow" is a place a few hours away on a mountain that, on a sunday afternoon in January, you might pile into the car and drive to. Otherwise it's pretty much just on TV. Well, that and... okay, I have to admit. As we drove the TVR down country lanes back towards Cambridge today, there were moments where the tableaux -- big flat snowy field with black-branched trees around, edged with a low, rotting wooden fence (all contrasted with soft white caps on every horizontal surface) -- looked *exactly* like a cheap motel-room oil painting. I said to Ashley, "That's how unfamiliar this all is to me: it all looks like a cheesy caricature of what it really IS."

 

The snowy scenes continued all the way back to Cambridge. I saw fluffy white pastures with sheep that suddenly seemed so, well, brown... and so shaggy that they were parted down their backs. As we approached Cambridge the snow looked soggier, kind of deflated; but it was still snow!

 

Now we walked up the drive to our apartment and I could actually say I live someplace with snow. I stomped my feet authoritatively in the entrance hall like people do on TV. Like I've been stomping snow off my boots all my life. Ashley probably has no idea how surreal it seems to me. I may as well be acting in an episode of Little House on the Prarie.

 

"Mornin', Ma! Mornin', Pa!"

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