Woke up with a huge laundry list sprawling in front of me and a brain ardently in need of caffeine. As I slurped my coffee and she slurped her breakfast, Gracie and I blinked at each other–hello, I love you; hello, I love you–but after she finished eating she was still eying me intently and licking her chops. Then I realized why. She and I are so codependent, and I enjoy coffee so much, that she was experiencing vicarious pleasure, even envy. Sorry, permakitten; I guarantee that you’d hate it as much as I did when I was your age. (Pictured here: the author clad in a live feline fur. That’s politically correct, right?)
I hadn’t been able to drive my car for nearly two weeks. I’d parked at the corner during the first blizzard, and was subsequently so buried by the city plows that I couldn’t even see the roof of Sadie, my poor aged Hyundai. With climate change and all, I figured that the snow would melt on its own soon enough. Instead we had another snow and ice storm, and my car was further buried. It got to the point that I figured I’d just wait til spring to drive again. Then they announced the L Train was about to stop full service on the weekends and weeknights.
So today it was in the 40s and I figured if there were ever a moment to dig the car out, this was it. Around 4 I set outside with a shovel and a pick and started working. By 4:30 I could see the roof of my car but it still was buried in the snowbank. Four tweens came by–neighborhood kids whose names I didn’t know but whom I recognized from when they attended the elementary school across the street. “That your car?” they asked. “Dude,” I answered like the mean lady I’ve become. “I’m not digging out SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR.” They all stared at me blankly–I was definitely a weird grownup–but I was too grumpy and sweaty to apologize. After a minute one of them grabbed the pick and started chipping at the snow blocking the wheel. The two other boys started kicking at all the ice. The girl started to pull at the snow with her hands, heaving huge chunks of ice into the street. “You don’t have to do this,” I said, afraid they’d ask for cash since I had none on me. “I’m in a bad mood,” the girl said. “I need to break things. Can you see my eyes are red? A boy was mean to me.” “A boy she used to go with,” explained one of her friends. “These guys are looking out for you?” I asked. She nodded. “They waited till I stopped crying and then walked me home,” she said. I felt like crying, too. These were good boys. We all kicked the snow and shoveled and, slowly, slowly made progress. I kept telling them to go home as the sky darkened. They said they were already late on account of waiting for Pamela, the girl, so they wanted to see the car get out. Big neighborhood guys walked by, offered advice, did not actually help. The five of us rolled our eyes and talked–how to handle it when we got mad, what they wanted to do when they grew up, what I already did. Hipsters scurried by, totally confused by our tableau if they even noticed us.
By 5:30, as I steered and they pushed, the car glided out of the snowbank into the road. We all hollered happily. I offered them rides home but everyone knew they’d be in a lot more trouble if they took a ride from a strange lady. Instead, we took a picture of the five of us on Xavier’s phone. He says he’ll send it on but even if he doesn’t I’ll remember that moment for a while to come. The bunch of us standing in the middle of Conselyea Street, in front of my idling car and the last rays of today’s sun. Yet another beautiful Brooklyn day, and I’m grateful to be grateful. (Update: Xavier sent the photo, pictured above!)