Monday, February 15, 2021

notes & things | snow day & post- valentines edition

When I was in the fifth grade, we had, on Valentines Day, what they called a blue route day...,mostly meaning that school would be open, but that those of us who lived further out on the bus routes, where the roads could be impassable, could stay home.  There were at least a couple of these every year, and it beat the treacherousness of watching a huge yellow school bus try to turn around at the end of the dead end road, a feat that even in good weather was a precise, mechanical, series of steps in order to not plummet into a ditch or get stuck in mud.  On a normal day, we would have relished this--maybe spent some time clad in puffy coats and moon boots in the yard, which at the time, still had a good hill where the house was built that had not settled to the slight slop it has now. We would find a steep spot and plummet down the hill on metal discs.  Or we'd built forts in the snowplow drifts near the driveway, complete with tunnels and rooms in the snow and then play there til the sun started to set.  

This particular day was a tragedy, due to it being Valentines Day, and therefore, the day of room parties full of red frostinged cupcakes and carefully decorated boxes waiting to receive valentines from classmates, which was always it's own weird system.  The people you actually liked or had crushes on would get the cutest cards, others less favored, whatever was left.  I had carefully planned out my cards & recipients, but then was thwarted by mother nature. My mom, who was not yet working again, managed to pull together a party at home for us--complete with boloney sandwiches cut into hearts, sugar cookies,  candy from my neighboring aunt's basement stash in her salon, and whatever else was lying around--tinfoil heart stickers, tiny redhots, slight stale conversation hearts. We probably watched movies and played with the stickers and outside of these snippets, I don't know much of what the party entailed. 

The next day, back at school, when I collected my stuffed box of valentines that had accrued in my absence, there was a sense that the party was already over.  In a couple years, Valentines parties would be a thing of the past--junior high giving way to candy grams and carnations gifted by friends As someone who didn't date in highschool, V-Day was always more about girl friends than boys. I'd collect my carnations (that had their own color-coded langauge) and the Hershey bars adorned with construction paper hearts. In 8th grade, tormented the first boy who ever broke my heart with mysterious ones every class period that hinted at a secret admirer that would never materialize just to dissappoint him. By spring, we were one again on speaking terms, but I don't think he every knew it was me.  In the fall, he went to a different high school and I never saw him again. 

As an adult, the go-to for V-day was a visit from my parents.  This started in grad school and continued up until maybe a few years ago. We would usually go to the Lincoln Park zoo, which even in freezing weather, still had quite a few people and offered respite in the indoor habitats.  There were years in which it was actually lovely weather.  Years in which it was like 10-15 degrees and we spent most of our time quickly shuffling between buildings to get inside asap.  We'd follow it up with lunch, first at a near-by diner, later at a italian restaurant up in the neighborhood with a parking lot. As for romance, I've never been one much for romantic sentiment in a day when it seems expected.  In truth, spent most valentines days spent partnerless for whatever reason, even in and out of relationships. The relationship that went on for years that would self-destruct in winter and rekindle every spring. or the married one who, of course, had other plans. 

I was thinking about that 5th grade party that was not a party in light of lockdowns and stay-at-homes that this year landed us at home for Valentines--a late start due to working, but entailed flowers and chocolates of a more adult-variety (and other similar treats). About traditions and remaking them. Last year, we saw our very last movie in a theatre pre-covid (Parasite) on Valentines night. Since my relationship history is spotty, I was around 40 before I actually spent an entire holiday with a partner, who brought me gifts no less. This is nice, but also strange, like a language I don't quite speak but am getting used to. 

Today, a snow day home from work and the campus closing early since it's supposed to get crazier tonight.  It seems like it's been snowing for weeks and I think it has. Alternating snow and cold, annoying, but I have now kind of gotten used to this being the way it is now until it's not, which could also be said about covid and the death toll I am trying not to check every day obsessively since it just freaks me out, but does no actual good. So at least I am safe inside for a bit longer with bacon and coffee and a warm shower (even though my bath gel in the bottom is pretty much frozen on the ledge and my sponge was adhered to the metal window frame and I had to pry it away) But this part of winter seems always this way, so we endure...

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