I remember the exact moment my spirit was broken. I’d left my house and turned the corner on Empire boulevard and Albany avenue. Halfway up the first hill which had iced over, I stopped. I couldn’t do it anymore; the struggling, slipping and sliding, past cars literally spinning their wheels. Terrified by the prospect of falling, I considered returning back and calling it a day, but descending the slope appeared just as dangerous. Caught betwixt and between I sighed in desperation.
It had been a month since the death of a former colleague of mine. He had slipped on some ice, hit his head and suffered traumatic brain injury. He was much older than I and less nimble, but nonetheless, the incident has instilled a constant fear I cannot shake. I take baby steps everywhere, with my arms spread out wide, tightrope-walker style. One day I fell, twice. As I lay there on Eastern Parkway staring up in the sky, I considered staying there for a while. At least while prone, I was unlikely to tumble again.
Each step is shorter an slower. The treads on my boots offer little traction against the slick streets. A once ten-minute walk has doubled. I’m losing time. This season is getting longer; even as the nights grow shorter. Even the faintest glimmer of a warm day that brings some sun to cut the snow piles down a few inches is followed quickly by an arctic thrust that transforms the slush, once promising to yield to the common pedestrian, into the devil’s slip and slide.
The only recourse is to sit and wait patiently until the infertile hard ground gives way, white turns to green and my spirits rise again.