I've spent the better part of the past 24 hours trying to get the internet to work properly, never taking into account until this evening that it might be the weather. Just as I was about to rip my laptop in half as though I were the Incredible Hulk and it were a very petulant phone book. Em fiddled with the router and I decided to embrace patience and therapeutic breathing (read: pinot grigio and chocolate chip cookies) and then all of a sudden...IT WORKS!
It goes without saying that I can't remember what the hell I wanted to write initially. Something poetic and thoughtful about the snow, for certain, as part of my frustration involved uploading that image you see over there to Flickr...which didn't work...until five minutes ago. That is a picture of my favorite childhood book, Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. It's one of those delightfully illustrated children's books from the early '60s with wacky turns of phrase and completely unadulterated childhood silliness. When I see snow falling from the sky, I think of this book. Always.
My relationship with snow is positive, pretty much across the board. Next to autumn, winter is my favorite season. I love the way the sky smells right before the flakes begin to fall, I love the sound of snow and the hush it lays across the land, and I love the opportunity to have a roadblock placed in front of my ability to move about the world at full tilt. Snow is pretty much the only instance when I willingly relinquish control. When I was a kid, I'd flush ice cubes and wear my pajamas backwards in an attempt to convince the spirits we needed a blizzard. And honestly, I shouldn't love it as much as I do; as I type this, my mother is having repeated mild panic attacks from her home in Phoenix about the weather out here.
But as far back as I can remember, I've been enamored with snow. Early on in my tenure as a working person, snow days were welcome but tricky. I worked retail for a number of years and when work was closed, I wasn't paid. When I transitioned to full time salaried work, I was an essential employee so I didn't have much of a choice. It wasn't until about three years ago that I was able to fully enjoy a snow day while still being able to support myself financially as an adult. Having that security makes a week off of work a joyous occasion, and this snowpocalypse has come at a particularly helpful time as I was battling a pretty serious head cold and in the midst of a righteously busy season at work.
There are a number of stir crazy people out there, and I'm confident that the majority of those people are being paid to some degree for their involuntary absence from work. AND, I do know that there are a number of people out there (including friends of mine) who are borrowing money and fretting about bills because they survive on an hourly wage or tips alone. Em and I were headed to the grocery store yesterday and my feelings boiled to the surface in a lot of ways. I'm conscious of my blessings and I enjoy this time, but there is a persistent and unsettling concern about people who don't have it this easy. I worry about underemployed and unemployed people, the homeless, the hungry, people without heat, people who live paycheck-to-paycheck making it hard for them to stock up on food before the first round of this storm hit, people whose health insurance is jeopardized because they are working less than the minimum hour requirement at their jobs this week, etc. No one can plan for emergencies like this. In some cases, I have been there before and in many of the other instances, I cannot fathom the stress involved in managing any or all of them.
I imagine there is something we can do as things start melting and repairing over the coming weeks, right? When you stop at the coffee shop, leave the staff an extra tip. Going out to dinner? Be extra generous to your server. Cashier at the grocery store not overly pleasant? Don't take it personally, smile, and understand that they've probably slept little over the past week. Your street isn't plowed? Be patient and thank the plow drivers when they do come through. Have elderly neighbors? Help them dig out of their homes. Make sure they have food and water.
It's easy for anyone to get wrapped up in the misery of this kind of apocalyptic event, myself included. Many of us are privileged enough to be safe and secure and it costs us very little in the grand scheme to pass those blessings on. This snow is historic and magical, and we would all do well to enjoy it if for no other reason than satisfying the little kid inside of all of us.