i headed out to work today, and there was the snap of snow in the air. something about the particular quality of that snap, and as i step outside, i step back 15 years to a weekend in Amherst.
it may be more than 15 years, but that's not really important. it was freshman year in college; we had all, my friends and i, headed off our separate ways. it was a bit of a shock, going from our small town high school to bigger ponds. i wanted to catch up with my best friend from high school, as a bit of grounding. plus, i missed him.
i was in Providence, he was out in Amherst. not having a car or a license, that meant i was taking the bus out to see him. this was back when the bus station in Providence was a relatively sketchy place. i have no idea what it's like now. it's probably not as hazardous to get to these days. i had to first skitter down College Hill, trying not to hit the patches of ice. this is how steep the hill is: there are handrails along the sidewalk. and they come in handy.
of course, once you got to the bottom of the hill, you still had to make it across the Circle of Death. nominally a rotary, this thing was deadly. see, they paved over the whole damn river, and the streets were some indeterminate number of lanes wide, merging and splitting whenever they felt like it. in the middle of the rotary was what we had nicknamed The Monument to Dead Pedestrians; probably some famous person at the top, or inscription on the bottom, but you never had time to look as you dashed thru the traffic without the benefit of crosswalks or traffic lights.
long bus ride, thru the inky black night, and finally arriving in Amherst, tired and overloaded from all the sensory inputs. we stopped at a coffee shop, somewhere downtown, and got a big mug of steaming something. he filled me in on the layout and history of the place, pointing out the smaller, tonier college across the common, telling me about the snowfights and how some bunch of students got dinged for taking *all* the trays out of the cafeteria to go sledding.
we hung out the next day, walked around in the bright snow, seeing places that my parents must have known when they went to school there. it was good to catch up with him, see a friend with whom i shared stories, and be in a new place with a guide to teach me.
but mostly what i remember about that weekend is the sharp snap of snow in the air.