Snow. Isabel, to her mild but unsettling despair, was reaching the Age. She was only a few more New York City winters away. There was no reversing time, no turning back, no matter how hard a middle school girl could try.
But not yet, Isabel desperately hoped, Please, God, not yet.
True, true. She was reaching it. She’d look at the sixth snow blanket of the winter and she would have an inner, mental tug-of-war. Smile? Groan? Scream? Scream for happiness? For the beauty of it all? Or for the agony? What agony? Why was there agony? She was reaching the Age; she was still debating. She was not like her grandparents, parents, or her friend who was only two years her senior. They’d whip out their metallic, sleek, and shiny mobile Apple products—those iPhones she will never and would never have—see those two crystalline flakes descending from that gray cloud, and groan. Complain with no hesitation. Whine without a second’s consideration. No internal debate. To those who have reached the Age, SNOW = Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
It was the third of March. The last time it snowed, it was the seventeenth of February. You’re late March, Isabel mused as she gazed at the snow. She loved how the snow so smoothly smothered the roofs of each alternate-side-parked car (11:30 AM-1, Friday, Don’t Litter). She would never know how nature did it.
Quickly now, her Dad spoke in calm and firm Mandarin as they walked towards their minivan.
Isabel looked at the bus stop across from her house where two eighth graders and two seventh graders from her school waited for a bus that will come who-knows-when. There were supposed to be three eighth graders, but she was late—evidently the bus was too—and her Dad would drive her.
The girl climbed into the car and was immediately fully conscious of the snow’s enveloping presence. She breathed with uneasy relief. Good. I can’t see them. They would decline the offer anyway… She was reminded of a Peanuts comic. Let’s hear it for snow!! Snoopy’s thought bubble had joyously declared. Joy, huh? thought Isabel. She tried to relax and not care. Tried to silence her conscience. They would never accept…Remember the last time people from your school were on your car? That stupid school bus was late…It was so awkward…The hymns were playing…everybody was so uncomfortable…Wait no. No, no, no! Please, Baba, don’t swipe my window…..!
Isabel’s Dad put down his windshield scraper and became the second-ever person to enter the family Honda that day. Isabel sighed again. She wasn’t able to see the bus stop and her cold, waiting schoolmates—they were all in her elementary school too, some were her classmates for more than three schoolyears—through half of the windshield and the driver window, the only areas of glass from which her Dad had hastily swept off the snow.
Let’s hear it for snow, she thought with grim enthusiasm, let’s hear it for snow!!