In a weird twist that I'm sure was not intended by civil rights activists, I'm starting to associate Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend with stabbingly cold weather. No disrespect to Dr. King or what he fought for, and of course this says a lot more about me than his cause. But my god, it seems to be freaking freezing every MLK weekend. To whit, the ones that stand out in my mind:
* MLK 2000. I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, with my friend Envirogrrl for her birthday. Iceland Air was having a special from DC. Ostensibly they were trying to get people already going to the European continent to stop over for a couple of nights in Reykjavik, but we decided that that was as far as we were going to go. And it was absolutely gorgeous, if a bit dark (their days during the winter are something like five hours long). However, the locals proved to be somewhat difficult to work with, even though they almost all spoke lovely English. We were given faulty direction after faulty direction on how to find a bus stop that would've taken us from our hotel to the center of town. We stumbled around for an hour or so and finally found the rusty metal bus shelter that supposedly would service a bus to town. We sat down to wait...and wait...and wait. After about half an hour of sitting in the metal structure which provided zero defense against the icy gales, Envirogrrl turned to me and said, in all seriousness, "Ladyship, I think we're going to die here today." Eventually, a bus made the mistake of driving down our street. We ran in front of it, desperately flagging it down, and got the kind driver to let us on and take us directly to direct stop. Sometimes being an asshole American pays off.
* MLK 2003. The drumbeat of war had been picking up and was reaching a state of near-inevitability. Anti-war activists organized a huge protest on the DC Mall to rally people one last time. While I've never been one for protests and marches - all that earnestness tends to rub my black cynical heart the wrong way - this one I felt I should make an exception for. So Grits and I layered up and headed over to the Smithsonian to participate in the civic process. At first, the energy of the crowd and the speakers was empowering and exciting. Then the frozen ground began to have more of an effect on my psyche. Slowly I began to lose all feeling in my feet. It was in the teens out, and the ground was a mushy mix of frozen mud and snow. After an hour, I turned to Grits and told her, "I must leave. NOW."
It was so bad, we took a cab directly to a Vietnamese place to get some pho soup and hot tea. I never did warm up that day - it took me until the next morning to defrost properly.
* And finally, MLK 2007. I've been trying to be more active at my dance studio - I understand that outside activities are one way you can make friends, once you're past the college years - so I decided that I would participate in this year's Mud Parade. San Antonio's long tradition of partying at the drop of the hat has prompted the city to hold parades for the smallest reason. Every year, they drain the river (of the Riverwalk), scoop up all the cups and hats lost by drunk tourists, and refill it. Then they have the Mud Parade to celebrate. I understand that traditionally it's a pretty big deal. This MLK weekend, however, it was in the 40s and raining. The Mud Parade consisted of the Mud King and Queen and my studio. Imagine the skimpy costumes you normally see on bellydancers. Now imagine wearing that when it's wet, windy, and cold outside, and your feet are soaked because you thought for some reason it would be a good idea to wear your water-shoes for the parade (pro: can't get hurt by the rain; con: completely ineffective at keeping your feet dry). It's not a lot of fun. You have never seen a parade haul ass quite so fast. We zipped up and down the Riverwalk in what had to be a record time.
Today it's even colder: a brisk 32 degrees, all day. Too cold even for the dog to be outside. But the cold snap should be over soon, as MLK weekend ends tomorrow.