It’s March 3rd, which is, of course, one of the twelve days of the year that are equally understood by Americans and the rest of the world.
Somehow this is like the broken clock that’s right twice a day.
Huge day in my own lifetime, five years ago today. Absolutely, bar none, the coldest I’ve ever been. It was only for maybe twenty seconds, longer than it’ll take to rehash/read this material in this entry here. But that’s how life works, iddn’t it? Moments expand, minutes into hours, days into years, which can also vanish instantly.
Six (a half-dozen) friends and I were trekking northward to go southward. At school in the Boston area, we were going on Spring Break and maybe even staging a minor political protest at the same time — we were headed to Cuba.
We had humanitarian visas, passes that let us (and the medical supplies we lugged), into Cuba – but we couldn’t arrive from America. We’d have to fly out of Montreal.
One friend had a place up in Vermont on Okemo, so we spent the night in the States.
Left crack early and drove the rest of the way, over the border and across the Canadian plains (it’s as flat as it is friendly up there). We’d stash our two cars in the long-term parking and pick them up after having been in Cuba.
Now, this being March 3rd, and there being Montreal, it was pretty fucking cold outside. The thermometer on our minivan was ripely double digits below zero for most of the trip. And it didn’t warm our hearts to see the number -27 on the screen when we were ready to get out.
The group mentality – or the sensible drivers – disallowed the idea that some of us would be dropped off at the entrance while the drivers themselves had to weather the elements. There were loads of things to carry, too; crutches, vitamins, diapers; two men, however sensible, couldn’t carry all that.
The kicker: since it was Cuba we were headed to, and since Cuba’s in the Caribbean, we’d have no need for our winter coats, hats, mittens, the like. They’d stay behind. Which left the only undesirable option of dashing from our cars to the entrance. In our t-shirts. At -27.
But we ran.
When it was over, I felt like whatever air I had in my lungs was condensing therein, forming tiny little icicles, snowflakes, in my bronchi, bronchioles, all the way down as far as the fractal goes.
The wind didn’t help and there were feet of snow. And the supplies, however helpful, didn’t ease the run. But it was twenty-odd seconds of sprint. And while simple, and transient, and not really threatening, a peak experience to me. In the freezing cold. Five years ago.