Even after looking at handfuls twice, I didn't believe what I was seeing, so I scooped a handful of the slushy snow onto the navy blue brim of my cap. But it wasn't slush or snow, either. They really were spherical little ice crystals, falling out of the sky at 3 in the morning.
The way they looked under the street light against the dark cloth made me think of diamonds, spilled onto black velvet somewhere warm and dry for appraisal. I got into a cab and wondered if we'd get hit by some idiot driver who couldn't handle the weather, and if I'd get killed or maimed or something, my life forever changed by some stroke of bloody-minded luck, like I was in some Raymond Carver story.
But we didn't, and I got out and walked a couple blocks to my place. The wind drove the hard little balls of ice -- not hail; hailstones grow in layers, going up and down in thunderclouds until their weight is too much for the convection and out they spill. They stung my ears and eyes and I had to put my head down and let my cap take the brunt of it for me.
A couple hours earlier, I'd been IMing with my friend who lives in Portland. The one in Oregon. He reported that he thinks the black guys in his neighborhood don't fuck around with his naive, suburban self because he often wears a Browns hat. It's his version of one of those T-shirts that reads [Location or place name]: You've Got To Be Tough, except in Portland, maybe they don't get the joke.
I thought about that while I was trying to estimate the speed at which these tiny bits of icy buckshot were peppering me. Fast enough for them to be moving horizontal. Weather like this just isn't surprising. Sometimes, I think I should move out there, move to fucking California where nights are soft. I wonder what it'd take to make me laugh out loud on the street there at 3 in the fucking morning.