Faced with the reality that my fridge contained little more than carrots, butter, and a foil-wrapped chocolate turkey from Thanksgiving, I left to search for the makings of soup, bemoaning every step of the way my failure to have done so a day earlier. Though most everything was closed, shuttered behind the steel curtains of roll-down gates, there were people out, traipsing through the flying snow in happy, shrieking clusters. There was no traffic—an afternoon travel ban had ordered all non-emergency vehicles off the roads—and everyone walked in the middle of the street, free of worry.
On the way back, everything was gray. Snow fell fast. It was entrancing and apocalyptic, everyone wandering, windblown. I wondered what else was going on one or two or three streets over, and for a moment, it seemed like the whirling gusts might take me. Instead, I reached my front door without incident. Over my shoulder, people seemed to appear from the clouds, slipping, sliding, leaping from cliffs of powder. Above was the faint glow of warmly lit windows.
Beyond that, there was nothing. It was impossible to see.
At 16, I moved with my family from Hawaii to LA. We’d been living in Honolulu for eight years, and now we were returning to the city we’d come from nearly a decade earlier.
I started 11th grade at a small private high school with quite a few kids I remembered from elementary school. My LA friends seemed older, more sophisticated, less sheltered than I did. They smoked cigarettes. They met for coffee. They drove to school and used slang I didn’t understand. Watching them, I was able to see, in bits and pieces, the different directions my life could have taken had we never moved.
I wonder similar things about other paths I've taken, too. What if I had never moved to New York? Gone to school in Santa Cruz? Taken a life-changing fall? Though certain of these occurrences were the result of deliberate decision-making, many others seem entirely incidental—the tiniest events making the very biggest impacts.
It’s impossible to know what might have happened if the past had played out differently— but then again, it’s impossible to know what’s ahead at any given moment, too. Either way, it's like walking through a snowstorm: beautiful and dangerous, ripe for surprise.
A few weeks ago, I walked with Emily from Tribeca to the Lower East Side in search of a late dinner. Neither of us had a place in mind, so we drifted without a plan, turning left and right and crossing streets at random. “I’m sorry I’m taking us on such a chase,” she said. I told her that wandering like this, on an unseasonably warm night, had turned into the best part of my day.
“I’m glad I ended up here with you,” I said. Our walk had taken many turns; it had given us the time and the opportunity to talk at the same slow pace as our footsteps—a lucky thing.
It jogged one of my earliest memories, sitting in the backseat of the family car, locking eyes with another child on the sidewalk. I had thought at the time, This is a moment that makes today today. If that moment hadn't happened, that 24 hours would have been very slightly different.
Emily and I stood at the corner of Broome and Elizabeth. As we waited for the cars to pass, a bicyclist sailed by, her dress fluttering at her ankles. Between her fingers was a single peacock feather, bobbing in the wind as though nodding approval. I made mental notes. Someday, I thought, this will be good to remember.
You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much, as always, for reading. Photo via my Instagram.