Nostalgia creeps in, subtly at first, then snowballs to full-blown homesickness.
I miss looking outside at the 2 feet of snow left overnight and lamenting the length of my parents’ driveway. I miss donning my Michelin Man down-filled jacket with its mildly effeminate fur trim and shoveling for an hour with my dad burning half a tank of fuel to warm the car. I miss the need for remote control car starters, which we were too cheap to actually purchase but which I thought were the coolest things ever. I miss coming in out of the cold, rosy-cheeked and crusty-skinned, to a glass of hot, strong Russian tea. I miss the half-shot of brandy my dad slipped into my hot, strong Russian tea while my tea-totaling mother’s gaze rested elsewhere.
I miss snow days and the delicious irony of the phrase “snowed in”. I miss going to the park with my dog and watching him bounce around like a small lamb in the deep powder, having the word frolic drift through my mind. I miss watching him shove his long black schnoz deep into the snow and calling his name to make him jerk his head up guiltily, clumps of snow sticking to his nostrils – like a coke-head at a drug bust.
I miss waiting for the TTC bus in the middle of winter. I miss spitting on the bus shelter glass and using the length of the frozen spittle trace as a temperature gauge. I miss the disgusting road slush left behind by the buses, composed of a combination of salt, ice, snow, and something brown that I hope is coffee. I miss splashing around in the road slush in my galoshes. I miss using the word galoshes in a non-ironic fashion.
I miss sitting by the single-pane windows of our old apartment and chipping away at the frost, making obscene drawings to the chagrin of my parents. I miss causing my parents to have chagrin. They probably still have nagging suspicions that I may be a homosexual because of all the icy penises I left on the living room windows.
I miss that holiest of rites for all children of the frost: sticking my tongue onto a metal fence post and the shock of staring at my tongue flesh’s imprint on the indifferent steel after my friends roughly yank my face away. I miss the pain and the pride I feel after having done this.
I miss the different types of snow. I miss knowing the different types of snow and how to make perfect snowballs out of that most coveted of varieties – packing snow. I miss throwing snowballs at passing cars or, if no fresh snow had recently fallen, ice pellets. I miss throwing wedges of ice onto the street to see if the approaching lime green Toyota Tercel could plow through them. I miss cracked windshields and flat tires. I miss pleading innocence at an angry bearded Iranian man as he shakes his hairy fists at me. I miss having no concept of body shops, car accidents, or repair costs.
I miss the sun reflecting off the white expanse of snow outside. I miss squinting in the winter. I miss the ninja-like sunburn on the exposed part of my skin between my eyebrows and the top of my nose.
I miss trudging through the snow to the local pub and ordering whiskey shots for the bar to warm up. I miss the burning feeling as the whiskey permeates every extremity, making my mittened fingers tingle. I miss wearing mittens, tying them to my wrist – proclaiming to the world that I have, possibly still do, ride in a shortened school bus designated by shapes and colours rather than numbers. I miss trying to drunkenly piss the words “Isaac sucks balls” in the snow after a night at the bar, only to realize that my frightened and frigid penis will make this task exceedingly difficult – wondering if this is what it’s like to have an enlarged prostate and dreading this potential future. I miss the feeling of the burning urine when if finally trickles out, and the hot pungent steam that wafts off the yellowing snow.
I miss the inevitable self-soiling that results from the thawing traces of frozen urine after zipping up. I miss secretly not caring that I am walking around with soiled underpants.
I miss the frigid mess that is home in wintertime.