It was a freezing cold Wednesday in Washington D.C. My fingers were ready to become frostbite, my smudged eyeliner ran down to my chin, and my pants were drenched from every bench I sat on for more than 2 minutes. One could say this was the worst first snow anyone could possibly experience. And honestly, at some points, I was thinking the same thing. I have lived in California almost all my life so up until that point, the only snow I interacted with was the fake kind that blew over the Grove during Christmas time. My youthful mind always imagined my first snow would be at some Disney winter resort surrounded by my family and fun snowball fights. Yes, the snowball fights thankfully happened later that day- but my first snow experience came with more than runny eyeliner and dewy clothes. It came with a life-long lesson.
They say misery loves company, and that’s exactly what I got. I was accompanied by this Floridian boy I had met on the trip. I remember it like it was just yesterday: walking with this stranger through the World War II and Vietnam War Memorial, talking about absolutely anything that came to mind. Topics ranged from our favorite types of music, food, and movies, to deeper and harder things to talk about like friendships, religion, and immigration policy. I suddenly learned this guy was not much different than me. We both have South American background; me Peruvian and him Colombian. We went to non-coed private, catholic schools. And shared the same taste in music (that was a huge bonus for me). All my life I considered myself a closed book. Yet the whole time I was with him, nothing was held back. Talking to him felt like talking with someone I’ve known my whole life. I confessed my struggles that came with being born in another country. I shared my shame and I shared my frustration. He listened. He shared back. And thus a beautiful friendship was born. Little by little, topic by topic, all my misery went away. I no longer cared about my ruined eyeliner. My wet pants no longer bothered me. And my hands were warmed by his presence. These little incommodities soon became irrelevant.
As the wind becomes colder, and the skies become darker, I always look back and reflect on that experience. I begin to miss him, his comfort, his genuine care. My first snow still came with that same joy I had hoped for, just in a disguised way. It came with four days of learning more about myself and another person. It came with a newfound appreciation and pride of my culture. My first snow came with a new sense of maturity and love, and a memory so precious and intangible. A memory I will hold on to forever.