On Thursday, I was an angel. It was a fleeting moment--no more than a couple of minutes, really--but in the time that it took for me to imprint my body into the moist, packed snow, something inside me stirred.
It was almost as though everything I had ever known was gone, as though nothing would ever again be the same. This is an unrealistic exaggeration, I know. But at 23, after living in south Texas for 22 years, Thursday's snowstorm was enough to alter the way I'll view the world forever. I had never seen snow, except on television or in pictures.
I woke at 4:30 a.m., the loud whispers of the wind knocking on my back windows and rattling the door on my porch. As I walked toward the noise, I remembered the news reports from the previous day: Snow, three to six inches, was expected to begin shortly after midnight.
I broke into a light hop and danced my way to the blinds, which I hastily pulled open. What I saw nearly yanked my heart out.
The snow, falling lightly and carefully, was simply beautiful. I stood at the window, growing colder by the minute, yet I couldn't force myself to go back to bed. I remained planted and recalled all the moments when I'd dreamed of a white morning.
As a child, while cartoon characters and child actors were romping in the snow, I was wearing shorts. While news reports detailed blizzards in other parts of the country, I was sweating in the sun. In the Rio Grande Valley, the most southern tip of Texas, the average "winter" temperature is 70 degrees. On Thursday, while I was outdoors making my first snowballs and snow angels, it was 82 degrees in my hometown of Edinburg, Tex., almost a record high.
Stepping out of my apartment building, I felt my breath catch in my throat. It was that gorgeous. It was a scene straight from a photography book. The snow, by this time packed and thick, had blanketed the shrubs, trees, cars and rooftops. And more was falling. I wanted to shout to the people who walked along casually, to whom this beautiful sight was nothing new. But I remained quiet. In a moment like that, there was very little I could say. And not wanting to let everyone know that I was the stranger to this picturesque scene, I walked toward my car, carrying my camera bag on my right shoulder and a large broom in my left hand.
I tried to pretend that I knew what I was doing as I swept the snow off the windows and got more on me than on the ground. I tried to pretend that I knew what I was doing when I rolled down my window (did I really think the snow would not fall onto the seat?). And I tried, once again, to pretend that I knew what I was doing when I reversed my car and skidded on the ice.
Most of the day, I talked about the snow: the beauty of it, the wonderful crunch it made beneath my boots, the solidity of it as a snowball and the tranquil, peaceful feeling it left on the places and people it touched.
Forecasts call for more snow tonight, but I will hardly take heed. Rather, I'll be the one wearing two pairs of socks, boots, thermal underwear, two sweaters, a jacket, a hat, scarf and gloves. I'll be the one atop the hills sliding down on a sled. I'll be the one making snowballs and snowmen and snow angels. I'll be the one reveling in the moment, with south Texas the furthest place from my mind.