If this were the last snowfall

The bus departs DC over an hour late but still gets to Philly ten minutes early. Terrible prediction algorithms or very smart management of expectations—with Greyhound, it’s hard to say one way or the other.

On the ride up I stare out the window like I always do. The glass next to me is dirty, covered in something sticky-looking that I opt not to touch. It distorts the image enough that I can’t decipher billboards as they go by. It’s like driving through Russia.

The clouds are thin and wispy. Not terribly invested in anyone’s idea of three-dimensionality, they seem painted on to the faint blue sky. A factory’s smokestacks impersonate a city out near the horizon, down where the sky’s color is bleached to white with the pale, sharp light of winter.

I didn’t really believe in the blizzard when I left DC, ridiculous crowds at the Greyhound station notwithstanding. In Northern Virginia it snowed all day and we had a quarter-inch accumulation to show for it; in the city the next morning there’s no sign of snow at all. It’s only north of Wilmington that I begin to see snow-clogged streets, greyish white below the dry, salt-stained highway. In the city I slog through slush and sidewalk drifts; on the train I watch the snow kicked up by the train’s wake. The sun sets into pink fire on the horizon. I examine my reflection in the darkening window, my favorite self-portrait, visible to only me.

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