It snowed in Boston this morning. Yesterday it was 60*, today it snowed. What is that people say? Time is an illusion, springtime doubly so?
It was that movie set kind of snow–that light, puffed, swirling in the eddies of the wind and gently falling to the earth where it melts immediately kind of snow. I’ve walked through many different types of snow since moving to New England, but very rarely have I felt like I was walking through an actual snow globe. The city didn’t not feel like it was being shaken up. Perhaps the glass is just on the edge of the horizon.
It was snowing so I looked up. I looked up to inspect the bits of it clinging to my eyelashes and the low ceiling of grey clouds beyond my eyelashes that those bits had come from. I watched as it swirled in dance motes, the white flecks contrasting against the dark brick on some of the buildings around my office. As I watched I thought about all of the times I have been told, while touristing in some city or another, not to look up.
Looking up is conspicuous. Looking up signals that you have an interest in your surroundings and having an interest in your surroundings signals that they are new to you. I find this to be both true and untrue. True because there’s something novel to be found in every ancient patch of sky, and untrue because I am never not interested in my surroundings, even the ones I see every day.
My morning walk from the train station to the office takes me across an open square and up a back street. In that four to five blocks there is a crazy mash of architecture, brutalist structures standing square jawed next to gilded, tiered art deco architecture. One of the buildings butts up against the street with a wide, tan colored wall that I mentally describe as derezzed sandstone, even though it’s probably concrete. It’s just pixelated in parts, there appears to be movement in an otherwise imposing and still structure.
My walk from the office to the train station in the evenings goes around the other side of the block. It is through park squares kept colorful and open with trees and flowers when they’ll grow, and art installations at all times of the year. I’m quite taken with one of the tall buildings that skirts this cluster of squares. It looks like a giant grey vent. It’s interesting and enigmatic and I have made it one of the important settings in a novel I’m working on.
Yet another, darker building serves as a backdrop for the squat glass pyramid of the train station entrance. It towers over it and recently they have started lighting the facade of the building up at night with changing stripes of purple to blue light. I’m not sure what point there is to turning the side of one building in a hundred into dance floor landing strip, but I am not one to turn down opportunities for good bisexual lighting. If only I was tall enough to take selfies in it. About twenty more feet on my height should do me.
I look up wherever I go, because I am a restless soul who just wants to be in the sky, but also because I find that cities in particular reward looking up. If it’s not the architecture it’s the lighting. If it’s not the lighting it’s NO HATE, NO FEAR signs taped to office windows or sexy leg lamps perched in government buildings. If it’s not the lived in spaces it’s the forgotten spaces, the colonies of grime and swirls of black somethingness living along the ceilings of the train stations, or the whorls in the wood of the scaffolding you have to walk under during construction.
I don’t think everyone should live in the clouds, and I’m not trying to discourage anyone from looking down either. There are lots of excellent things to see if you’re looking down which I might make a whole other post about another time. I just think that, every once in a while, it’s good to stretch your neck out. When you go about your days take your wonder with you. And if that’s naive and silly well, it doesn’t hurt to be a little naive and silly from time to time. We all have a lot to see.
I think tomorrow we’re back to plain old cold rain. I have faith in spring, but you know what they say. April showers freeze over March flowers.