On the evening of December 10th, 2014, I was scheduled to meet a pediatric resident at a restaurant for dinner. At that moment, I had only four minutes to spare. I threw on a lightweight jacket, thundered down two flights of stairs, burst through the back door, and then –
I stood in the doorway, blinking the haze away from my eyes. For a moment, I wondered why I could not see clearly. Millions of white flecks fluttered down from the dark sky. I admired how the miniscule crystals melted instantaneously on my glove, leaving nothing but cold beads of water.
It was snow.
That night, I stayed up long past a reasonable bedtime in the darkness of my bedroom, gazing out the open window. With a crisp breeze in my face, and snowflakes falling over my fingertips, I took pictures of the landscape I had come to know so well, transforming before my eyes.
Walking to and from school was the highlight of my week. I bypassed as many sidewalks as I could, opting instead for the lawns blanketed with snow. I had forgotten how snow felt under my feet – firmer than cotton, softer than bread, best described as a sea of glass wool. I was late for my dermatology classes because I took so many breaks to take pictures and throw snowballs at the sky.
The afternoon after the snowfall, I grew tired of dermatology and invited a Californian classmate for a study break. We ran up the hill behind our school and threw snowballs at each other for 45 minutes.
What a sight we must have been – two Californians running amok on melting snow, and fumbling with an amorphous structure that looked more like a mound over a grave than a snowman.
In medical school, I have had the opportunity to enjoy snow. Last year, when I was on my medical school interview tour on the East Coast, I never once bothered to touch snow. It would have been unwise to throw snowballs with polished interview shoes and a freshly pressed interview suit. Instead, snow became a substance to be feared, something that could soak through coats and cancel entire interview schedules.
This year, snow regained some of its novelty. I approached snow with the same fascination as I did during my first encounter with a snowman sixteen years ago, off a narrow twisting path in the mountains of Santa Barbara.
In the midst of our dermatology unit, I felt like a kid again.