Caitlin Essig / Arts editor
This weekend was my first time visiting New York, and I guess the city wanted me to feel at home.
Growing up in Ohio, especially just outside the state’s snowbelt, forces you to adapt to snow quickly. I grew up on a street in a small town that always seemed to be the last one plowed. Not only am I used to walking around in the snow, but I’m used to driving in it too.
But Winter Storm Nemo was cruel.
A massive snow storm hit the East Coast Friday, blanketing areas from New York to Boston in 1-3 feet of snow, and canceling as many as 4,000 flights, but it couldn’t stop screaming girls from chasing Justin Bieber down the street.
I was in New York City from Thursday afternoon until Saturday evening for a press junket for the movie “Admission” (travel and hotel accommodations were paid for by Focus Features) – right in the middle of Nemo’s wrath.
On Friday, I wanted to explore the city, because you don’t go to New York and stay inside. My friend and I bundled up and prepared to battle the freezing rain which had begun falling that morning.
Freezing rain pelting our faces, drenching our hair and soaking through our boots and socks was not enough to stop us from walking the High Line in Chelsea, which is a mile-long, linear, elevated park.
The best part of being in NYC in a snow storm was that despite the inclement weather, people were still going about their days, walking to work or to meet friends for coffee. Times Square was still bustling with people at 7 p.m., despite the heavy snowfall and the few inches that already padded the ground.
Much of my night was spent stepping in deep, cold puddles as I crossed from streets to sidewalks, and my hair turned to ice along with my toes early in the night.
At about 10 p.m. I took a taxi to a little theater on West 54th Street called Clearview Cinemas Ziegfeld. When I went into the theater to see “Silver Linings Playbook,” there was a light snowfall adding to the inches on the ground. I walked out two hours later into a blizzard.
There was at least a foot of snow on the ground at this point, and the streets were mostly deserted. City workers were plowing, shoveling and salting the sidewalks, but they couldn’t keep up with the heavy snowfall.
On a street near the theater, a woman, about 40 years old, lay in the powder on a sidewalk, making a snow angel as her husband snapped photos. Her childlike laughter echoed down the street.
Walking from the theater to Rockefeller Center, my friend and I ran into maybe three other pedestrians, not including the street cleaning crews. A man shoveling the sidewalk asked us if we were staying warm. “Trying to,” I responded, my breath visible in the air and my scarf coated in ice and snow.
Taxis were more frequent on the streets than any other cars, but cab after cab rejected us after rolling down their windows and asking where we were headed. “147th and Seventh,” my friend would say. “I can’t drive out that far,” was always the response.
Maybe the rejection was a blessing in at least one way – as we stood outside Rockefeller Center, we heard a score of high-pitched screams in the distance, and then a small boy ran past us. It was Justin Bieber, who was hosting “Saturday Night Live” the following night, running into the studio, with about seven 13-year-old girls in tow.
Eventually we begged enough to convince a cab driver to take us home, and the first thing I noticed when we slipped into the warm car was the ice in my eyelashes. I didn’t think it ever really got cold enough for that to happen.
Nemo raged on, covering the city in snow at least until we fell asleep watching the snowfall from the window. The next morning, cars were snowed in, especially in my friend’s neighborhood. My 3 p.m. Saturday flight was canceled, forcing me to wait until 7:30 p.m. to fly home, not that I minded the extra time in the city.
As far as being the first blizzard of 2013, Nemo was harsh, cold, relentless, but manageable for an Ohio native with thick socks, warm layers and the determination to explore NYC.