After living in Los Angeles for 18 years, I have never experienced real snow. I have, however, experienced fake snow. When I was little, my dad would take me to Disneyland around Christmas time every year. At the nightly parade, they would shoot out white, glittery pieces of paper, and when I asked my dad what it was, he said it was snow. It wasn’t wet, and it usually got stuck on my clothing. I liked this kind of snow because it was shiny and never disappeared. Kids could roll around in it, and they wouldn’t get wet or dirty. My first impression of snow was a pleasant one.
As I got older, my family began to take trips to the mountains of California. The most popular winter vacation spots were Arrowhead and Big Bear. My first trip to Arrowhead was only a few years after my first trip to Disneyland. It was distressing to hear that the snow that I first experienced wasn’t snow at all and that the mushy, wet and dirty flakes of ice up in Arrowhead were the real thing. But they weren’t the real thing, because Arrowhead and Big Bear produce their own snow. For the next few winters, I spent a lot of time in Arrowhead, attempting to ski and snowboard on the artificial snow and not progressing in any way. I realized that I’m not a girl who is fit for the snow. I can’t play any snow sports. I can barely understand how to wear the proper clothing for cold weather, and I just don’t appreciate the beauty of snow like many other people do. Plus, I had never experienced a real snowfall — Los Angeles is known for never getting any snow, let alone any rain during the year.
When I applied to Boston University my family was confused. “You hate the snow,” they would tell me. “You can barely stand fake snow. Are you sure you’re ready for the real thing?” And honestly, I had never given it much thought. My friends from high school who moved to Boston before me told me that their first winter was a breeze and that they barely received any snow. I just assumed that a simple snow jacket and rain boots would get me through the winter.
Recently, I heard that the upcoming winter was going to be one of the worst winters Boston has had in a while. I was told that my puny, California coats would not protect me from the harsh winds and snow. And this time, I would not be faced with artificial, man-made snow.
The first snowfall was not as bad as I had expected, and a number of my friends from California actually embraced the change. We went outside and experienced real snow for the first time, taking many pictures to document our experiences. Sure, my hair got wet, and my leggings were destroyed (I obviously don’t own any snow pants), but I thought it was worth it to experience this extreme weather change. When I called my dad and told him about experiencing my first snow, he laughed at me and told me that in a couple of days I would grow to hate it. I didn’t believe him at first.
The next day, the snow wasn’t so soft and beautiful as it was the day before. It was mushy and gross, just like the artificial snow I first witnessed in Arrowhead. As I walked to my classes, I wished I could feel the Cali sun shine down upon me and make me feel warm again. I remembered how unaccustomed to the cold I was and realized it would take me years to get used to this type of weather. It’s difficult to make this transition because I still associate winter with light rain and foggy weather, just like it is in California. I have never experienced snow as a part of winter, and it is quite a shock to have to start wearing warm clothing in November. This time last year, my friends and I tanned by the pool on the weekends because it was scorching hot in the hills of Los Angeles. Snow never got in the way of our routine. Unfortunately, reality has hit all of the Californians living in Boston, and that reality is mostly made up of harsh winds and terrible snow.
Rachel Chistyakov is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a fall 2012 columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.