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Slip, Slidin' Away

January 7, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
It's hard to imagine while driving across the state of Pennsylvania on a perfectly sunny day with beautiful blue skies and not a flake of snow in sight, that one will end up in a city with piles of snow taller than me.

But that was the case last month as my husband Bruce and I only slightly altered our plans to spend a few days in the Snowy Apple the last week of December, before heading to our usual New Year's Eve celebration at the Jersey Shore.

On the day after Christmas, the storm moved in, with predictions of 18 inches of snow in New York City and also along the Jersey coast. The snow just couldn't have taken a turn east to go out to sea before it dumped all that white stuff upon my destinations. No, of course not.

We could've stayed home, and just headed to the shore a few days later — when the temperatures were expected in the 40s.

But a friend recently instilled in me a new philosophy. ... "If it's between going and not going, go. If it's between doing and not doing, do." I like that. The words resonate inside my head often. That simple resolve has allowed me to experience life a little more fully these days.

So, we packed up the car and headed east. Despite the warnings — those from a friend in New York City who was looking at the white nightmare out her window, and from my gut.

We did decide only to venture halfway on Monday, and to arrive in the city on Tuesday — to allow the city to prepare a bit better for our visit. And I still had some more holiday shopping to do, so the midway break in Harrisburg, Pa., was perfect. And still no snow. Lots of wind, but no snow.

As we headed out the next morning, after considering just staying in Harrisburg for another day (going to the movies, more shopping, not stepping over an avalanche of snow), I talked to the friend in New York. She said she would suggest waiting until Wednesday.

Too late, I told her. Call us crazy, but we're on our way.

We started seeing bits of snow around the edge of Pennsylvania, around Easton, where the Crayola Factory is located. (Couldn't they have just colored it green? Then we'd never have noticed.)

As we turned north into New Jersey, the hillsides were more noticeably covered in snow. The closer and closer we got, the higher and higher it got.

And then we hit the city.

I had a Groupon to spend in the West Village, so Bruce dropped me off in front of Le Petite Coquette (featured, unbeknown to me, in "Sex and the City.")

That was the first of my snow-climbing adventures. I climbed over the pile that had been plowed to the side of the street, and made my way to the sidewalk. That would be the way it would go for the next two days.

It was either climbing over snowbanks or shuffling through slushy, who-knows-how-deep, puddles. Thank goodness for my Payless "wellies" I had purchased at 34th and 8th avenues several years ago in the midst of an ice storm that graced New York City on St. Patrick's Day. (I sure know how to pick 'em, huh!) The waterproof (albeit cold) vinyl galoshes were my savior, on both occasions. Next time, I'll add a cushy insole for a bit of insulation. (Next time? Am I nuts?)

While the streets of New York (Manhattan was a little better than Brooklyn) were messy, I was still amazed at how life goes on. The crowds did not subside. The avenues, the theaters, the stores, the restaurants, the subways, still were as busy as usual. Traffic was worse, however, because the actual driving lanes were diminished due to the snow piles. A 15-minute cab ride across town took almost an hour, and the cabbie asked if he could drop us off a few blocks before our requested destination. I think he just wanted out of the mess.

Yes, we should've taken the subway. (Especially because Bruce left the great gloves I bought him that work with his iPhone in the cab.) The subways were only slightly affected by the weather — mainly the ones with above-ground tracks. The B train wasn't running at one point when we needed the B train.

But, I do love the subways where you walk and walk and walk underground from Point A to Point B, avoiding the outside. "Isn't it nice to be underground?" Bruce noted. Yes, it sure was. Toward the end of the second day in the city, I could've certainly just stayed underground ... until spring.

And, yes, we could've just stayed home.

But I would've missed spending my Groupon; having a fun dinner in Brooklyn; visiting the Whitney Museum for the Hopper exhibit; eating a street hot dog (well, that I could've lived without — but it was an emergency because the hour cab ride ate into our lunch time); crying through the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Next to Normal" on Broadway; and eating dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant, Kefi, followed up by dessert at a great wine and chocolate bar, Ayza. We also braved the crowds at Macy's (THE Macy's at Herald Square) — trying to find Bruce new gloves like that lost pair, and we did get to view the famous Christmas windows.

Whew. That was a packed day and a half. I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for the world.

"If it's between going and not going, GO. If it's between doing and not doing, DO."

I resolve ...

Welcome 2011, and Happy New Year.


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Yep, that's someone's bike in there.