Storytime: March.

March 15th, 2017

Sorry I’m late.
I know, I know, I KNOW. You gave me VERY detailed instructions and I was diligent in memorizing them, I tell you no lie. But you know what it’s like out there!
It’s cold!
It’s wet!
It’s dreary!
And the snow’s come-and-gone so many times that nobody can keep track of where all the frozen dogshit is!
So because of all those VERY GOOD REASONS, can I be blamed so much for letting my mind wander? At a light, I might add? I was safely parked, one eye always on the intersection, and just for a minute – a moment, a milli – no, a picosecond! – my thoughts drifted the way of warmer things and times.
And so when my light turned green I twisted my grip on the wheel, without really knowing why, and took the right.

Let me tell you, it was a shocker. One moment bleak cold and wind, the next wet fists in my car’s face. Showers fit to kill flowers, hail turning into thunder turning into ice cold turning into a warm slush. I couldn’t tell if I was meant to switch to second gear or break out flippers or attach an icebreaker’s prow to the bumper.
And that sound! That pounding, pulsing sound! The trees all beating together like a heart the size of a mountain pulsing on a drum the size of a continent.

Now while I was distracted by all of this, you surely can understand why I’d miss the next few intersections. I was busy trying to stay alive and not hit anyone, as any responsible driver would prioritize. So my hands were on the wheel and my eyes were on the road and my beams were on low and my foot was light on the gas and my brain was spinning, just spinning out all over the place with the horn blaring and brakes pumping.
Look! Geese in the world’s only flying letter! They’re coming back!
Wow! Buds glistening on bare brown branches!
Gee! Bare ground turning green with rebounding life!
Willikers! A groundhog making ardent love to his shadow in the middle of the street!
That last one caught me a bit more off guard than all the others put together and I spun out all over the place, horn blaring and brakes pumping. And when I stopped spinning I was stuck in the rotting remnants of a giant snowpile in the far corner of a half-flooded parking lot in a dingy old strip mall that had been in the 90s once upon a time.

I bought fruit by the foot. Its bright colours pleased the atmosphere.
I bought fruit by the pound. It was seasonal and furiously unripe, shiny and hard and sour and tart.
I brought out my camera, and took picture after picture after picture. Click click click robins! Click click click flowers! Click click click puffy clouds on deep blue!
By the time I was done my car had melted free and the air smelled like plants fucking without limits. My sinuses were a roller-coaster of emotion and mucus and the tears that came down my face were emotional as shit.

I got back on the road and it was easier now. Cleaner. The old stale salt and dead black ice had been scraped away by the sun’s own shovel and the traffic was calmer, sedate. Everyone still had their winter tires and paranoias on, nobody’d yet started driving like the maniac that July made of you. There was a hint of slush that slapped affectionately against your wheels now and then, but it was more liquid than solid and it was nothing but love.
It was the most fun I’d ever had driving a car.

But all good things end. I came to a red light, and as I stopped there I looked ahead and I saw something new. Something REALLY red. Something burning and furious and real. There was dry grass in the distance and bonfires in my nose and I could almost feel the endless days creeping under my fingernails.
Dead ahead. Almost there.
Why not? My god, why NOT? Fuck this nonsense of waiting, why walk when you could drive? Get there in half the time with twice the fun at the low low cost of a lot of bills. Why not?
This, said the police car behind me. Its lights were flashing. Its sirens were not. This was the vehicular version of clearing your throat noisily. Behind its windshield a pair of sunglasses were watching me, and I could see the road ahead burning inside them.
I pulled over.
As the officer got out of his car, I felt no fear and no anger. I knew what I’d done wrong: in my heart if not my body I had speeded, I had roared down that road with both feet and hands on the accelerator and my soul in my teeth. It was there right now, at this moment, and it was amazing how close the warm air had brought everything to me. Until this second I’d never really seen the dew on my windshield, the dust in the air, the bit of snot on the police officer’s moustache.
I turned my smile to him and I knew at that moment that everyone and everything was my friend, speeding ticket or no. The world was in my heart and it was warm and soft. “What seems to be the problem, officer?” I asked.
And the next thing I knew his knee was in my back and the world was in my ribs and it was extremely cold and gravelly.
I asked him something very polite about what the fuck he was fucking thinking the motherfucker.
“It is illegal,” he told me in quiet, authoritative tones, “to take the right of spring before the end of March. You prick.”

The penalty was harsh but fair, firm but rigid. Two hours in the cooler.
So, that’s where the freak blizzard came from. And that’s why I’m late. And please, don’t make a fuss when I say this: I really am not shovelling tomorrow.

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