Wednesday, August 29, 2001

In the house of your growing up, can you remember the view out any of your windows? What did you look out on? Your neighbors' houses? A row of stores? Or fields, woods, water, mountains?

I remember sitting on the piano bench in our living room at 54 Fellsmere Road in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. I must have been about nine or ten. It's December, and the sun has set, not that we'd seen it much that day to begin with. The snow is thick and fresh on the ground outside, and it continues to fall; the white of the snow now seeming brighter than the gray of the day.

I've not yet turned on the lamp that stands next to the piano. As the natural light has faded, my enthusiasm for playing has also waned. Now I'm waiting.

I've spun around, back to the piano, elbows on the deep window sills, the sheer curtains pushed aside, my forehead pressed against the cold glass. The walkway, which had already been shoveled twice today, is again buried, though not as deep as the front lawn. Across our yard is the icy sidewalk, and the narrow one-way road which has become a thick river of brown, yellow, and gray slush. Across the street lay the perfectly snow enshrouded yards and Tudor homes of our neighbors.

Our family cat, Mittens, jumps up on the window sill and sits next to me. I pet him, and talk to him quietly, but we don't look at each other; we examine the ice crystals forming in the corners of the window, the icicles hanging from the eves above us, and the way our breath forms fog circles on the panes of glass. Mittens and I watch the street together and wait.

The snow continues to fall, gathering force and showing no signs of ever letting up. From the other room I hear the news; car accidents, school closings, and downed power lines. The street is incredibly quiet and still, the falling snow being the only motion or life in evidence.

Finally, seemingly hours after it should have happened, the reflection of headlights illuminates the slush and snow filled driveway. The sound of a car door slamming begins the symphony. Next are stirrings from above, as my brothers emerge from their rooms upstairs. The tapping of my mother's shoes approaching up the hallway from the kitchen leads into the sound of feet pounding down the stairs. The crescendo is the shutting of the front door and the rustle of a heavy coat being hung in the front closet. My father's finally home from work and life returns to 54 Fellsmere Road.

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