The first white-gold of day lights up the town, fills warm, dusty bedrooms, and floods in through bright kitchen windows. Right outside the side door, it is completely white--like a great iced cake--calm, still and spectacularly cold. The cold is brag-worthy, which is fine, because that’s what we do around here; we talk about the cold. We marvel at the cold. We boast about the cold. We lament it. We live it.
Somewhere, everywhere here, people are getting ready for the day. They’re in their big, drafty, run-down old houses, on their narrow, cracked streets. The hum of overworked furnaces hangs in the air, as some make breakfast and others go without. Kids get the knots brushed out of their hair, and are pushed out the door again. They ride in school busses, or their parents’ crappy car, and most of them lament the loss of the weekend freedom. They carry their worn-out Walmart running shoes in their Walmart backpacks, while wearing their Walmart pants, shirts, socks, underwear, boots, coats, hats, mittens and scarves.
They leave their parents to their worries, their frettings, their minimum wage struggles or their joblessness. All roads lying NORTHSOUTH are jammed. A warm line of exhaust fumes. A train is coming. It cuts the entire city in half, and brings Rush Hour to a grinding hault. The train goes on its way. The gates swing open, and they're on their way again, to inch and push up those pot holed roads.
The sky-high hotels and tourist traps entice visitors by creating a wall—blocking out the ghost factories, the struggling city; its residents so mired in their own apathy, they’ve forgotten the beauty a mere ten minutes away from their own derelict neighbourhood: one of the world’s seven wonders, in fact.
And they drive. They drive in their rattling cars, and white mini vans, and their working-man’s trucks, and they smoke. They all smoke, it seems, and everyone has a cup of Tim’s strong coffee in their hand, or a discarded paper Tim’s cup on the floor of their vehicle.
I step out into that cold, sparkling morning, let the dry ice air hit my lungs and I walk. I pull my girl by the hand, helping her through the snow. My boy drags along behind endlessly fussing and fidgeting against his cumbersome snowpants and coat. The snow squeaks and crunches underfoot, like styrofoam. My jeans feel thin and useless against the sub-zero temperature. I kiss each of them goodbye when they're delivered to their destinations, and I walk. That familiar feeling comes over me again: these are my streets, these are my roads. The house across the road is covered with long, clear icicles. When I return, it’s just where I thought it would be—my girlie’s pink scarf, right there on the driveway where she dropped it. And I am home.