I suppose before I tell you about anything else, I have to talk about this past winter.
See, winter has been a hot topic in my life for the last six months. Basically since I arrived in New York, in the full-on summer heat, long before winter was even a threat, people have been bringing it up.
When I first decided to stay, everyone I came across — old friends, new friends, family, strangers in bars who found out I was new to the city and from California — was convinced my life in New York was a phase; a short-term decision that I would regret almost immediately.
The thing is, I kind of understood that sentiment. The story of how I wound up in New York isn’t very convincing. Let’s be real: I moved to New York on a glorified whim. I didn’t even move here. I just decided not to leave.
For a while, I stopped telling the story to anyone new. But it didn’t help. As soon as someone found out I was from California, they were positive I would bail mid-winter. Everyone seemed to think a little cold and some snowflakes were going to break my spirit and send me scurrying back to California.
New York was hit by a freak (and very short) snowstorm just before Thanksgiving. I was at work when it started to snow, and my friend Emily went outside with me so I could experience my first New York storm.
To be fair (to myself) it was a bad first experience with snow in the city.
New York sort of shut down that night. The authorities weren’t prepared. The storm was supposed to pass over us and hit somewhere farther up the seaboard…or something. People came to work the next day with harrowing tales of cars being abandoned on the bridge because traffic hadn’t moved in four hours, of being stuck at Port Authority until the buses started running again late that night, of subway cars that simply never arrived at the stations.
I live on the Upper East Side, so I was lucky enough I could walk, which is how I learned that snow boots are a very real, very necessary thing. (And that traction is a pipe dream in anything less.)
Tako had a harder time with the snow than I did, evidenced by the tiny pug meltdown he had when I took him out on his walk that night.
One thing you have to realize is that dogs are everywhere in New York. And I haven’t looked up the statistics, but I’m 99% sure that my neighborhood has the highest concentration of dogs in all of Manhattan.
So when Tako started yowling at my feet, about half a dozen dog owners turned to find the cruel owner that was abusing their dog. Hell, he had me half-convinced he was dying. I scooped him up and carried him back to my apartment while he continued to yowl in my arms and checked his paws super carefully for signs of frostbite or something dire. Like an idiot. The little brat was just cold.
If that short snow storm at Thanksgiving was a trial run, we didn’t perform very well. If I’m honest, Tako and I performed terribly, and I started to worry everyone was right.
How We Survived: I did a lot of research.
If you’re thinking to yourself “What kind of idiot has to research winter?” scale it back a notch, my friend.
Until September, I lived on the coast of California for my entire life. Our weather is amazing all year long except for some rain in the winter and some fog in the summer. Before New York, I had been to the snow three times in my life, two of which I barely remember, and one of which made me believe I never wanted to experience snow again.
Cut me some slack here.
First order of business was getting Tako snow boots because I refused to nhave my neighbors think I was abusing my dog.
He hated them so much that he sought out and destroyed one single boot from the set. (To this day, I don’t know how he got into the cabinet where I kept them.) I tried the little rubber ones that look like deflated balloons, but he never got used to those either.
I spoke to a lot of dog owners about his boot rage, and it turns out that the problem for dogs isn’t really the snow. It’s cold on their paws, and it’s true that if they stay out in it too long, they could get frostbite or hypothermia just like a human. Since Tako wasn’t staying outside that long (because I wasn’t staying outside that long), I stopped being worried about the snow.
The real problem for dogs in the city is the salt they sprinkle all over the roads and sidewalks so that the snow won’t freeze to the pavement.
Solution: I started walking Tako without the boots, and I rinsed his paws every time we came back inside. He was a much happier pup.
As for me…I’m not gonna lie: winter wasn’t easy, even if this year was eerily mild.
But, being the nerd that I am, I did my research, and picked the brain of my friend Elyse (a Santa Barbara Girl who survived winter in Billings, MT). In the end, I gathered the following items:
- Uniqlo HeatTech (just get all of it)
- Columbia snow boots
- Blondo waterproof boots
- Uniqlo Ultra Warm Down Jacket (they don’t seem to carry mine anymore, but here’s a similar shorter jacket, another double-lined and a different Uniqlo parka)
- Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket (I had this from my camping supplies, and I layered it under my parka on multiple occasions for extra warmth.)
- 10,000 pairs of tights
- all the sweaters and sweater dresses my tiny apartment could house
I also bought several pairs of gloves, none of which I liked. So that’s going to be a do-over next year.
And then, confident I had done everything I could to prepare myself, I tried to enjoy the winter as best I could.
Eventually, Tako got used to the snow, and so did I.
I actually learned to love what little snow we did get. I mean, how can you not love something this beautiful?
I did catch myself waxing poetic about winter beach days a few times. But it wasn’t enough to send me scurrying back to California.
And now it’s SPRING!