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Editor's Note, 2/26

My mom always told me that I was born during one of the great snowstorms of Ann Arbor, Michigan—a storm that brought into existence snow so plentiful, my parents had to wait a few extra days before they could leave the hospital and introduce me to their—now, our—cozy apartment. They gave me a Chinese name, my middle name: ?? (Xue Ni), which means “snow girl.” If you look carefully at the character for Xue, you can see the snow that was falling past the window as I entered this world.

21 years later, I have come to conclude that I was not born in snow; I was born from snow.

“Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes” Maria, The Sound of Music

A few winters ago, when the Midwest was hit by one of the greatest snowstorms in its history, the snow piled up so high against the side of our garage door, it carried with it more disgruntled faces and sighs of exasperation than usual. But my sister and I saw in that snow the most wonderful opportunity to build an igloo.

Enwrapping our hands in warm, fuzzy mittens that smelled slightly of pine from their last outing—mine with Winnie the Pooh characters; my sister’s, solid blue––we bundled up. Hearts racing with excited laughter, we rushed outside and dove our hands into the avalanche of snow, packing it into great, heavy bricks, and, thus, the igloo assembly began.

Brick by brick, layer by layer, we packed the snow together. At times, a side caved in and bricks were smashed, but little by little the snow by the garage door cleared and found a new home in the humble abode we had since constructed.

I construct with the snow that originally constructed me.

Slowly, the snow disappeared and gave way to a small pond that formed where there used to be a home. Then, the small pond disappeared and gave way to a patch of green grass that poked its head out toward the sun, taking in its first gulp of light and wintry air.

Science tells us that every snowflake is unique in its design and in its construction, which means that there are infinite possibilities of human experience because no two snowflakes are exactly alike.

Looking up towards the hazy sky, I watch the snowflakes gently spiral down, cherishing every moment as it passes by—all these moments that can never be experienced the same way again.

“…watching the night snow fall, noticing that snow contains myriad nows” Ann Lauterbach, The Night Sky

Identity and experience are forever intertwined, as experiences, like snowfall, are unique in their every moment, and can be had or passed by in a matter of seconds. It is in a matter of seconds that a life and an identity can be brought into existence, changed, or lost.

I cherish these nows as I stand in the middle of the latest snowfall, generously allowing the snowflakes to stay on my nose and eyelashes. As I stand here, I unconsciously allow myself to live and accept each individual moment that I experience, and allow these moments to shape and build my unique identity.

But, isn’t it tragic how the laws of nature dictate the spontaneous transformation of individually unique snowflakes into a sea of homogeneity?


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