On the eve of thanksgiving I decided to take a day trip to Lake Tahoe. After stocking up on pre made pasta salads and coconut water at the local co-op, I dug out my thick winter coat from my storage box labeled THINGS FOR WHEN IT'S COLD, that hasn't been opened for a good year.
It had been several years since i've seen fluffy white freshly fallen snow. Or felt that satisfying sensation of being warm, under layers and layers of clothing, the only giveaway of the extremely cold temperature being the tingling feeling in your face, as if your cheeks were being repeatedly pinched by an earnest grandmother. But I remembered my favorite part of the winter experience; the crunch crunch crunch sound of walking on freshly fallen snow, and the sense of accomplishment knowing you're leaving snow-packed footprints in your wake.
I invited my friend Ellen and we decided to set out at 9am. I'm used to taking these random holiday trips alone, because most times everyone else has traditional plans and would almost reprimand me for not having the same. But Ellen is from Xi'an, China and could care less about doing traditional American activities on American holidays so at 9:03am I arrived at her apartment and with her backpack slung over her shoulder and a very thin pair of cotton gloves she ran to the car. She was excited, as was I.
In the Northern California town where we live, the weather is quite mild, and it was at least 30 degrees warmer than it would be at the lake. Noticing she was only wearing jeans and sneakers and a fairly light jacket I wondered...Then, I noticed a space between where her sneaker ended and the hem of the jeans began - the perfect place for snow to creep through as we walked and soak her socks and freeze her ankles. I've been there. My first winter I almost froze to death. Wearing jeans that as usual were not long enough and not yet familiar with the concept of layering, leggings, undershirts and wool socks. I lived on the verge of total frostbite, that strip of exposed lower leg crying out for reprieve.
"Ellen, its much colder in Tahoe and it snowed a lot this week. Do you think you'll be okay in sneakers?"
She said she knew and didn't plan to walk much so would be okay. Off we went.
With no real destination or plan in mind we drove along and alternated listening to my music (Mumford and Sons, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan) and her music, Chinese singers and groups, some traditional, the rest more modern pop style. The pop chinese music reminded me a lot of Celine Dion and Whieney Houston. Though I had no idea what the words meant, to me they felt like love songs and I couldn't help swooning.
We drove all the way around the lake, stopping every now and then for pictures, well for me to take pictures. My friend just wanted to relax in the passenger seat and enjoy the view from the warmth of the car. She had the right idea.
After finishing our pasta salads were were still hungry and soon enough, found a cafe that was not only open but quite packed. Seems as if we weren't the only ones doing something nontraditional.
After lunch we walked around some more then kept driving. The scenery was beautiful and the company was great.
I met Ellen a couple months ago in a class I was taking and was a bit hesitant to invite her on the road trip because apart from lamenting over our problem sets together on our way to office hours, I wasn't sure if we were exactly friends. I though maybe she already had plans with her real friends, or maybe she would think I was lame for not having any family to visit on thanksgiving. But I knew she was a foreigner and likely didn't have any family here and I remembered the days when I was new in the country and spent those American holidays alone, not always happy. I'm so glad I was able to put all my assumptions aside and invited her. We really had a great time, excellent conversation and it was nice to walk in the snow again.