The train arrives in Albany and it’s snowing. I hadn’t seen snow in so long and had once been used to it so well. The flakes are falling as big as balls of cotton. I am struck by how special it is, the snow and how unaffected by this the Albanians seem. No one is giving the snow a second’s glance, not the snow that is falling but only the snow that is already on the ground, the snow that has collected and compacted, and now growing, such is their concern. They are watching their steps, making way through footpaths paved over the season’s course by boots in daily traffic.
The snow was stunning. It was so sunny out, or so it seemed considering the snow, but for it being past six in winter it was bright. The snow flakes, as large as they were they fell slowly, almost drifting, the particles light and not dense, and visibly porous. I thought it was beautiful. It was pleasurable for me simply to stare. In the distance, on the tops of the mountains, the sun rimmed with a blinding ray, which from that and all the way down the mountain slopes the coloration was a pink changing to a creamy orange, then to blues then greens and then nothing but the pure light which shone before my feet.
Impurities. Soil stains in the snow. Not as beautiful up close, I suppose is true–impurities, which speaks only to beauty, had exposed. Cigarette buts by the train station entrance, sticking in a snow mound like little tan tombstones. And a giant loogie, hacked on the ice-cracked rim of a garbage can. It was disgusting for me to see, and I’m not one usually to be offended by such a sight, I spit all the time, but in the center of this loogie was a stream of human blood, peppered with black dots of God knows what, it was enough to make me gag, as my hand skimmed inches above the gum littered, broken plastic rim, I was tossing out an empty bottle. I will swear I could smell the loogie even if I hadn’t, rancid and warm. I don’t even know if loogies do have much smell, but this one sure seemed to suggest that they do. Rancid and warm. Kind of like flesh, I thought, and smelled my arm to check this but it was too cold.
The Albanian, they seemed to me miserable. And though I didn’t fight myself in concluding this, that they didn’t know what they had, I have to wonder. Perhaps they’re not miserable. I’d seen recently that people in Northern states are some of the happiest people, said some report in the local news in Florida, where I now live and where the suicide rate is among the nation’s highest, said that same news report. I was taken aback to hear that when I did. Mainly because I enjoy living in Florida, which is mainly because I enjoy the weather, the climate and the relevant things which come it, such as palm trees, wearing shorts year-round, fulfilling the function of a pair of sunglasses, etcetera. Of course there are tradeoffs as well, such as mosquitos, hurricanes, lightning, expensive air conditioning costs, etcetera. All in all, life is life.
I look around at these Albanians once more and I think perhaps they are distracted, by the elements at hand, that that is why their faces seem so–so distracted. Not miserable, but distracted, with watching their steps, shielding their faces from the wind and what not. It is now windy, I come to realize, and the sun has nearly gone. The beautiful mountain slopes, I cannot see that through the darkness beyond the city lights. It is night. I’d bet indoors, where it’s heated, where there’s no wind and where all such elements become matters of one’s control, faces show differently.
If not for better at least certainly differently. That could be true, I thought. I could see that playing out, like how if I’m walking through rain I keep my head down, as anyone does, who has to walk in rain. Heads are kept down. They don’t seem miserable now that I think of that, they don’t. They don’t seem distracted, either. I realize as well that as to my own face, I cannot see it right now. I’m shivering more than others, of that much I’m sure. I am wearing a hoodie, and sweat pants. I wore these items on the train, all the way up from Florida. The Albanians are in jackets. They seem in tune. They are in tune. It is me who is not.