I woke up to utter silence, no cars honking, no sound of pedestrian walkways beeping outside my apartment window. In the place of those noises, there was only emptiness. And I felt a pang of dread, a feeling driven from some lost instinct, drawn deep down from the depths of my soul. With increasing dismay, I pried open the curtains with my fingers. Outside, I saw only blinding whiteness. I saw the snow, and I heard nothing. White and silence, a stark contrast to the colorful, strikingly noisy city I normally resided in and relished. In my mind, I woefully wished for that city to return, the city I knew and loved. I yearned for the cold blades of ice that had brought this stranger to melt away and disappear.
My ears were blessed as soon as I registered consciousness. I woke to my favorite sound in the world... nothing. Laying in my warm bed, snuggled in my fuzzy blankets, I felt glorified, surrounded by clear, white nothingness. I peeked out my window to see a welcoming sight. A crystal white, sparkling blanket of snow covered the busy city I lived in. It was certainly a change, a sight to see. Nobody was walking around, there were no cars on the roads, it was if a chilly blanket had covered the city and muffled any sign of activity. It was if the city was a stranger, an unknown entity, but in my mind, it was certainly a welcome one.
After fifteen minutes of unproductively lying in bed, I finally got up and tried to start the morning, as if it were an ordinary day. Brushing my teeth in silence was almost unbearable. Cooking breakfast with only the crackling sound of bacon to keep me awake made my eye twitch uncontrollably. Without the street noises of the city, I couldn't find the jaunty rhythm I normally had to my actions. I was unbalanced, unhinged. I had fallen off of the track to which I usually lived my life.
In the silence, I was able to get out of bed much faster than normal. On an ordinary day, I would hide my face under the pillow, overwhelmed by all the noises of the city, which I felt were yelling at me. It would take me a good fifteen to twenty minutes to get up and ready for the day. Today, it took me five. In the stillness, I was alone with my thoughts. It didn't feel like anyone was shouting at me, pressuring me to be someone I wasn't or do something I didn't want to do.
I tried to go about my daily routine. I really tried. But with the combined silence and forced boredom, I found myself unable. I turned on the tv to watch some news, only to see that there was a delay in the snowplow schedule. The roads surrounding my apartment wouldn't be cleared until the afternoon, and all public transit was shut down for the day. I was unable to go to work. I was unable to go anywhere. I was stuck in my small, silent apartment for the entire day. I turned on some loud music to cut through the emptiness. Blasting heavy metal on the speakers only kind-of worked.
I had the most productive morning I've had in a while. In the tranquility, I was able to complete so much work. I didn't have to go into the office, so I worked from home. I got more of my assignments done than I would have in my cubicle. Around 10am, however, someone next door started blasting music on a heavy-duty speaker with loud bass, so boisterous I could feel the walls shaking as I sat on the couch, working. Being the shy person I am, I didn't have the nerve to ask my neighbor to turn down their music. So I just waited it out, and the music thankfully shut off only shortly thereafter.
I sat on my tiny couch watching tv. After trying to read several books, attempting (and failing) to work on the appeal for my assigned case at the law firm, I resorted to my laziest form of entertainment. Sprawled on the couch, watching movies, I felt as unproductive as ever. At least I tried to do something, anything, before turning on the old television. I had even braved the snow in a meager attempt to find people to socialize with at the park. I got about half a block before giving up and turning back. After shaking off snow in the lobby, I trudged in defeat back to my apartment. And that's where I stayed. Laying on the couch, drained of my energy and completely discouraged by the weather. The weather of all things.
I started working at 8:30, the time I would normally get to the office. I normally worked from 8:30 til 4, stopping for a half-hour lunch break. However, in the serenity of the snowy city, in the comfort of my apartment, I finished two whole hours earlier than I had hoped. The weather, the glistening snow outside, had motivated me so exceedingly and absolutely, and I felt more awake than ever, even energized.
I found nothing good to watch, eventually settling on a cheesy rom-com that I didn't really want to watch. With a sigh of unsatisfaction, I got up off the couch to get a snack. As I walked past the balcony to microwave some popcorn, I glanced out the window. My balcony, which I had forgotten all about until that very moment, sat there, prompting me to enjoy it. Turning off the tv, I grabbed my computer and opened the sliding door with a squeak. I shuffled outside to my single lawn chair, dusted the snow off of it, and sat down. I brushed the snow off of the minute table I had thrown out here when I moved in, and opened my laptop, resuming work on my case. As I had hoped, the nice view of the city, as well as the cold air, helped my productivity, at least a little bit.
In the wake of my productivity, I settled down on the couch with a book. Unluckily for me, my neighbor decided to turn on his tv right then, and the indistinct mumbling distracted me from my reading. I repeatedly tried to ignore the sound, but in the end, I gave up. Frustrated, I pulled on my coat and boots and wrenched open the door to the balcony. There, at least, it was quiet. Sitting in my patio chair, surrounded by sparkling white snow in a calm city, I was able to read in peace.
Arbitrarily, I looked over to the balcony to my left. My neighbor, who I had only met once, just happened to open her door and step outside, book in hand. Remembering how she didn't really like to socialize, I pretended not to notice her and continued with my work.
After a few chapters, I heard rustling to my right. I looked over. Sitting on the balcony adjacent to mine, working on his computer, was my neighbor. The neighbor who was kind enough to blast music with a heavy bass, as well as watch television with the volume up uncomfortably high. I avoided his line of sight. I didn't really want to talk to him. What if I lost control of my tongue and said something insensitive? Better to play it safe and not strike up a conversation.
After a few minutes, though, I had to start a conversation. I couldn't help it. I was desperate for the human contact I had been deprived of the whole day.
"Hey," I said, cringing at my bad conversation-starting skills. "Bad weather today, huh?"
I looked up from my book. He was talking to me. Internally, I started freaking out. I couldn't hold a conversation to save my life. Couldn't he see that I was reading? When someone is reading, they don't like to be disturbed!
She looked up from her book and smiled.
"Actually, I rather like snow. It brings a newness to this city." I hoped he couldn't hear the trembling in my voice. It was pathetic enough that I couldn't hold a conversation, I didn't need to hear it from someone else too.
My neighbor and I started talking. I explained to her how much I suffered in near-silence. As much as I could see she disagreed with my opinions, she still considered my ideas, and I respected her for it.
He listened to me and shared his own opinions as well. The conversation didn't feel forced at all. It felt natural, it felt like... having a friend. After a few minutes, I felt my muscles loosen, my face relax. I closed my book, making sure to bookmark the page. I never thought I would see the day where I chose socialization over reading.
In the wake of a snow day, two people of complete opposite personalities came together. The hushed city, a foreigner to both, had brought two strangers and made them friends. Their voices and laughs were the only things that punctured the silence the sparkling snow had created.