The nice, simple holiday I thought was going to happen turned out to be much simpler and yet more complicated. Blizzards and black ice at various points over the course of the past two weeks created so many travel difficulties that we missed out on what few things we had planned to do. We were snowbound.
The view from the living room window
One of the small social gatherings in the works was up in the air for nearly a week and went through the sort of hourly it’s on/it’s off/it’s on/it’s off deals that put my routine-loving nerves on edge until we learned that one of the close friends attending had just received catastrophic health news. It was on. The moment the roads were the slightest bit passable (and the state of emergency lifted), we would make our way there.
It kept snowing, and then it got so cold the wind chill was -45F. The world seemed to have ground to a halt, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that everyone was simultaneously praying the electricity would stay on. The stillness was eerie–so quiet, no people or cars about. The last time it was that quiet outside of any house I lived in was on 9/11. Outside of the walls of my home, outside of my own little life, there was a catastrophe, and there was nothing I could do about it.
The quiche was baked, the back of the car weighed down with leftover sacks of garden project gravel and concrete, extra blankets and boots were thrown in, and enough time allotted for a 35 mph journey. There wasn’t much traffic. It was the sort of just-do-what’s-in-front-of-you activity that seems to occur with more frequency these days, that blankets the nerves and buys the heart and mind some time while one keeps the wheels of everyday life on the road.
It’s an odd thing, this second-hand pain. I’m not the one facing the life-changing crisis, not the one experiencing the first holidays in widowhood, not the one standing in line at the food bank, not the one looking at the flat, blank city lot where just a year ago I had a home with a Christmas tree lit to the nines. For now, I’m the one in the bubble, the one behind the glass, watching as the snow melts and reveals whatever will remain.