Monday, February 25, 2013

Storm Nemo Comes To Boston

Since I last wrote, Boston Massachusetts has survived a massive snowstorm followed by Valentines Day- the one day out of the year where the lovers of the world all put tremendous pressure on their significant others to sum up a loving relationship with symbolic acts that “defines” the way they feel about each other. 
The beginning of this adventure starts the two days before the snowstorm Nemo. My boyfriend was just getting out of work from the Prudential Tower as I met him to go buy some groceries for that night. One of the joys of living in the middle of Boston is the 24 hour super markets always located a hop and a skip away from your apartment. The supermarket we were headed to on this lovely Thursday evening is called Shaws, and is located next the the Prudential Tower right smack in the middle of the city. 
When we entered through the sliding doors the store was a buzz with people doing their pre-snowstorm grocery shopping. “This is normal,” I thought as we walked through the store, observing people who had carts that would lead one to believe the end of the world might be tomorrow. Back home in Amherst Massachusetts, I find that people stock their cabinets with the slightest warning of an impending storm, so my mindset was that Bostonians must do the same therefor making this normal.
It was not until we were halfway down an aisle that was set in the far back of the store that we noticed a unsetting amount of people just standing around with full carts. At first, I experienced immediate irritation. I couldn’t understand why people were literally standing in middle of the aisle doing nothing. Perhaps, for some reason, there was a large number of clueless people out and about, that all decided to go food shopping at the same time? I wasn’t sure.
It wasn’t until I was blocked by three different people in the cereal aisle that I peered down to the front of the store. It was then I saw it, the line of never-ending lines. For you to understand how ridiculous this whole situation is its important to know that this Shaws supermarket is HUGE. In fact, it might just be the largest supermarket in Boston. The lines were so long, each spanned at lease half the length of the store, which is insanity because there is a plentiful amount registers at the front of the store. 
This site would annoy most people, but my mood instantly changed to that of excitement. I began passing each aisle, peering down at the people in it as if I was observing some National Geographic special on television. 
After my excitement began to calm down, and I started turning from a 5 year-old back to a 23 year-old, I took notice of the dominating item in everyones carts: alcohol. One man, about the age of 35 had a handle of vodka, a bottle of Patron tequila, two bottles of wine and some snack food that one would hardly call a well balanced meal. The man ahead of him had two bottles of wine, and so on. If I had to guess, I would say 85% of shoppers had $30+ each of alcohol in their carts. 
Out of curiosity I looked into the liquor section of Shaws. Lets just say, If you were coming into that store without knowing what those aisles held, you might assume, judging by the amount of people grabbing bottles off the shelf, that those bottles held something that was a necessity for staying alive during a snowstorm. 
Once I was done running around the store, observing people as Mark rolled his eyes and tried to distance the fact that we knew each other, we put our meager three items each back on the shelf, and got out of there. We substituted CVS as our supermarket that night as we stopped by a whole foods briefly only to find the same shopping frenzy of people in a mad dash for groceries.
The next day was Friday, and Nemo had officially begun. I was released from work early as the snow fell and the parking ban turned into a driving ban. It was strange walking home seeing streets on Boylston naked of the cars that were always parked on both sides.
Mark (my boyfriend) came home from his finance job that evening with the unfortunate news that his second night job at a local bar had not let him off work. In fact, the bar was so determined to stay open, they put their waitresses up in a local hotel. Not one to miss the possibility of adventure, I whimsically decided to give him some company at work with the promise of storm photos lingering in the future. Plus lets face it, I wanted to see Boston engulfed in snow to the fullest. Little did I know how interesting the actual bar part of the night would be. 
Most people in a blizzard hunker down in their home with some hot coco, and maybe watch a movie or have a drink if your in the mood. Apparently Boston people take this chance to buy alcohol like it was water and party hard. For those who could not do this in the privacy of their homes, there is the bar, if that is, your brave enough to fight the storm to get there. 
By the time Mark and I adventured outside to make the 10 minuet journey to his bar job, the winds were wicked and the snow was more like ice shards that angrily insisted on making their way into your eyes. The level of the snow had climbed to my knees, which was impressive as it was only 9pm at night. Considering we would be at the bar until about 2 am, adventure was definitely afoot and ready for us.
After a walked that seemed to be 30 minutes, we reached our destination. During I came to the conclusion that I would make a terrible arctic explorer, vying for a nice cup of hot coco rather then ice in the face. Everyone in the bar seemed to be prepared, however, as they were all dressed in snow pants and ski goggles. Throughout the night I met lots of people and has multiple interactions, but two of them specifically stood out. The first was a group of rebellious 35-40 year olds who insisted on being mischievous. Their tactic in doing this was to act out in small enough ways that they were not booted from the bar, but large enough ways to keep the bouncers busy all night with their mischievous actions. One woman, perhaps in her 40’s, actually starting hanging on a light fixture adorned to the wall above the woman's bathroom. The manner in which she did this was that of a pole dancer. For those of you who still aren't seeing this image, she was acting like a clothed stripper. The wall the light fixture was set into was made of brick, and the fact she didn’t end up with light fixture in her face still amazes me. 
The second person that stood out to me was a man that everyone refereed to as “Big Sexy.” “Big Sexy” stands at about 6’4” with dark skin, and weighs somewhere in the range 300 pound range. He was also one of the most hilarious, friendly, hard to miss people at the bar. At first, he was introduced to me by a friend who said, “ Sarah, this is  Sexy, Sexy this is Sarah.” However, we were in a bar, and I was so sure I had misheard the name, therefor assumed it was a unusual name that was hard to pronounce. Later it was explained to me that all the locals who come to the bar call him “Sexy” or “Big Sexy.” When I asked Mark what his real name was, Mark looked up quizzically for a moment before slightly frowning, then lifted his eyebrows in surprise saying “You know, I have known him for 2 years, and I have never heard anyone call him anything but Big Sexy.” 
At 3am we left the bar and ventured the barren streets of Boston. On the way home, we only encountered one lone man carrying a yellow sled under his arm. The next day was Saturday and we awoke like two kids on Christmas morning to go explore the snowscape that was not Boston. 
We traveled from Symphony down to the Boston Commons, and finally to the North End and Aquarium. Then, because the subway was closed, we headed the long way back.  During our commute we stopped to document the storms impact on the city. Bostonians were alive with the new change of scenery. There were people skiing in the streets, others letting their dogs off lease because no one was driving, kids being pulled on sleds, and finally runners who would never let a snowstorm get in the way of training for the Boston Marathon, forced by the snow to run down the center of the main streets.
At the end of the day we returned home with wind burned faces, and exhaustion in our limbs. Finally, we cozied up and did what most people do during a snowstorm, indulge in some hot coco, and a good movie. Of corse if I didn’t add my own competitive edge to the day, my name would not be Sarah Burke, so I submitted my storm photos to National Geographic’s My Shot section of their website, and it was later selected among the best of the best viewer-caught storm photos. The link to National Geographic and the photo itself are below. 

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