It’s cold and snowy today, but it wants to be warm and springtime, even if it’s not.
How I can tell?
Three nights ago, I took a straggler bag of trash to the sidewalk container for the weekly morning pickup. I wore a t-shirt, shorts and dirty socks with no shoes, and it was nearly midnight.
I opened the lid and sky-hook-slammed the bag like a dunk contest champ. I smiled because I’d won, and because it was warm the entire time I was out and exposed, which was maybe a total of 90 seconds.
It was humid, like it wanted to be warm and springtime, but wasn’t. I walked to the middle of the street, and I refused to look both ways until afterwards. That’s how much it felt like it wanted to be warm and wonderful and springtime. I was being offered a new start, and I took it like a wild thief.
But here’s the exciting part. When I stood in the middle of the street and looked down (or up), I saw three green street lights for the full 90 seconds of my short-sleeved, warmly defiant, middle-street stance.
Let me explain the significance of that. There are three lights on our street. Technically, there are four if you count the flashing yellow at the corner, but we never do. Why would we? Who slows down for those?
Those three signals are never in synch enough to allow anyone uninterrupted transition under all of them, no matter the speed. Never. I’ve tried all speeds from zero MPH to way above that, at three-MPH increments. Every time, I got stopped by lights coming and going.
No, it’s worse than that. Coming-and-going traffic gets stopped then stopped, then sometimes stopped again. I think that’s how the timing of the lights is set up. I believe the concept is to force slowness throughout the neighborhood.
But as we know, in springtime, things change, things like perspective and expectations and hope. I saw three lights stay green long enough for any driver to get through all of them, even old men with hats.
As I stood in the yellow painted center line in my t-shirt and socks and shorts, I wanted to walk down the middle of the street and pass through all three lights on foot, but I didn’t want to chance the chill of ruining the experience by seeing red.
Besides, what would a street walker do if he came upon a red light without a car or truck or SUV to be in? Keep walking? That’s rude, even in a season that wants to be warm like springtime. Any respecting person would stand there and wait it out.
That’s the proper etiquette, right? The walker stops and waits out the red, even if risking looking like an idiot to the peeking neighbors?
Did I say I was wearing shorts? They were boxers. Underwear. Does that change the conversation, even in times that want to be springtime? I think not.
I wonder if the guy across the street would wait for the signal to change if he were standing in the middle of our street in his underwear, like me. I know we all wonder about things like that. It’s normal and often entertaining.
How many midnight wandering drivers wait for a light to change colors, especially if they think nobody’s watching, or even fully awake? Even if you suspect both, do you have sufficient guts to make those people jealous that they are stuck inside looking out at life, and you’re outside living, not caring enough to look back?
Once a decision like that is taken, there’s no going back, really. Even if you look back, you can’t go back there to live again. Like with Norma over there with the blinds drawn but fingers parting on the phone, asking why is that same man standing in the middle of the street in his underwear again, and the person on the end of the call says because he’s weird that’s why.
Weird like that time Stanley her husband chose to leave her, but later became sane again and returned. On the way out of town, Stanley pulled over to make that goodbye call. It must have been a quick, cryptic and frantic message. It had to be.
And weird like when, after the call, he returned to his warm toasty home to a waiting and watching and chilly Norma. He even left skid marks in the school parking lot when he returned home. Apparently she was not impressed.
“But I came back,” his moving lips seemed to say between split blinds. “I left skid marks for you.”
“But you left,” I think she said.
May he rest in peace.
So, it feels like warm springtime, even if it’s not.
It feels so much like springtime, that our rescue cats will sleep on their respective ragged cat tree perches on the screened-in porch tonight. We know them that well.
They will think springtime thoughts, thoughts like, if my humans were small like roadside rodents, I’d eat them. It wouldn’t happen quickly, but after some playful flinging and batting of their small and warm springtime bodies.
Since we humans are not quite that small, our cats will pretend to be content eating whatever we offer. In exchange, we sleep in the comfort that they will kill us only in their dreams.
Why? Because it wants to be springtime and warm, even if it’s not.