Take that Chicago. According to the elevator in my office building (or at least according to the little TV screen aptly named "Captivate" in the elevator in my building), and as confirmed by the link, New York is one of the windiest "big" cities in the country with an anuual wind speed of 12.2 mph. Not Chicago. I would suspect, however, that average would increase significantly if they (whoever the wind measurers are) moved their measuring site from LaGuardia airport to the corner in front of my building which I often refer to as the secret portal to the arctic circle. In the winter at least.
Whenever I have people over in the winter - such as for my annual dessert party - they enter my home with ruddy cheeks and wild hair, traumatized by the wind making wild claims that they were nearly carried away by it. I smile and nod and tell them about the arctic circle connection and hand them some comforting fudge or a cupcake as I instruct them to leave their coats on my bed because it is warm now and they are safe from the big, bad wind here in my apartment.
This past Saturday was especially blustery. And rainy. A bad combo on my corner since an umbrella does nothing to combat swirling, slanting rain. I attended a baby shower on the upper east side in the morning but despite the rain I decided to walk home. There was something so calming about walking through Central Park with almost no one around. The sound of the rain falling on my umbrella reminded me of rain falling on a tent and I laughed to myself about that night last August when my sister and I spent a mostly sleepless night warm and dry in our tent camped on a fjord in Iceland fearing we would be soaked any minute with all the rain pouring down. By the time I exited the Park, the rain was coming down in sheets, confirming my plan to stop at Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some groceries. Stepping out of the store, the magic of the rain and the sidewalks turned to rivers vanished and I did not want to find out what the wind and rain combo looked like that last block to my apartment. So I took a cab home and holed up in my apartment for the remainder of the afternoon enjoying the comfort of a tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwich lunch as the weather roared outside and I repeatedly told myself "you will go to Brooklyn for that birthday party tonight, you will not back out."
While I was trying to motivate myself to put down my book, get off my warm, comfortable couch and get ready for the trek to Brooklyn, I heard a horrendous crash. I did not budge from my spot. I am not sure if I really stopped to even acknowledge it as I just assumed someone upstairs or next door or outside or somewhere had dropped some big glass thing.
As I was getting dressed and convincing myself to go out, I heard sirens. Lots of sirens. Again, this did not phase me or even prompt me to look out the window and I did not associate the sirens with the crashing noise. I live on a major cross-town thorough-fare. One that is a favorite for the NYC police department to use to send about 30 cop cars, sirens blaring, racing down for no apparent reason. They often stop, blocking two lanes of traffic, just below my window. There is nothing to see when this happens but a lot of police cars and bright lights.
Earlier when I was at Whole Foods they were doing one of these drills at Columbus Circle, snarling traffic in the process. People were pressed up against the windows of the Time Warner center to see what was going on but after so many of these sightings I just assume the police are bored and need to feel important for a minute. It is an attention grabbing scheme (or perhaps a training drill, I don't know) so I ignore it.
But when I left my apartment not much later, I realized there was something to see just below my window. Traffic was blocked by several fire trucks - one with its ladder extended onto the roof of one of the car dealerships my window faces. The wind was horrendous and I was running late so I did not linger long to figure out what was happening although I did realize this must have been the source of the crash I heard earlier. I was beginning to think the wind had blown off the Lexus sign that was normally over the door of the dealership.
Walking up the hill toward the subway, the wind was at my back and I felt it shoving me along, trying to make me walk faster as my scarf kept managing to unwind itself in the swirl and nearly got away once. The wind was worse than I had ever felt it in terms of velocity but thankfully not at its coldest which can make you feel like you are standing there naked despite layers and layers of heavy clothing.
That night, after taking a cab home from Brooklyn (sure it was pricey but subway service was sketchy and my theory was if you can actually find a cab to hail in Brooklyn you should take it - plus I did not want to walk toward that wind at my apartment), I asked my doorman about the sign. He said the wind had reached 50 mph and blew the sign right off. Did you read that? FIFTY miles an hour!
My jaded, city-dwelling self could have had a direct view of the carnage if I had simply tried looking outside after hearing a tremendous crashing noise. Instead, I continued lazily reading on my couch.
At least it is nearly spring (or so the calendar claims), followed by summer when that tortuous wind changes its tone to a placating breeze welcoming me home each evening.