I don’t want to live in a world without sweaters.
It’s February 24th, 2020 and the Mr. Softee ice cream trucks have already made their seasonal debut. When I emerged from the subway at 181st Street this afternoon, the truck’s jingle was afloat over the usual buzz of St. Nicholas Ave. In that moment, hearing a familiar song had never felt more strange. The lilting song filled me with a sudden waft of pink sunsets and sticky July nights, but I was quickly reminded of the reality that I was sweating through a wool coat and wet socks. The high was 60º, and it felt as though pollution and sadness were hanging tangibly in the humid air. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want ice cream.
I can’t act like I’ve lived in New York City forever, but it has been home for the last seven years — my entire adult life. The average temperature in August 2013 was 81º, but I remember it as sweltering. Between all of the glass and the skin and the concrete and the steam, my clothes had never stuck to me so.
Then: fall. There are reasons there are songs about autumn in New York. Walking down the street with bright sun in your hair and slightly chilled air in your lungs can make you feel beautiful, unstoppable. Everything tastes good on your tongue. The fall of 2013 was sharp and thrilling. My time was spent alternating between NYU’s animation studio and St. Mark’s Place — perhaps at a back corner in Veselka, writing something in a notebook, filled with a new kind of creative energy.
When winter set in, it was fierce. I recall wearing two sweaters on my first day as a dog walker. Until spring, I spent my days navigating snow banks and calf-deep slush puddles, as though I were on an arctic expedition with my loyal Shar-Pei — whose winter coat probably cost more than mine did. This was also the winter I learned, as every punk does at some point in their life, that Doc Martens are not winter boots.
Yet, the moments that were not spent scrubbing dog pee out of Turkish rugs were filled with a surreal beauty. There were long stretches where the city stood still, save for the streak of a bright orange deliveryman, cutting through slush on his electric bike.
It snowed 50 inches that winter. Last winter, just 20. This year, I’ve seen no more than a handful of flakes, quick to melt. The…