With the exception of approximately eight of my fifty years, I have lived in the Northeastern region of the United States. The other eight, I lived in states and countries where the weather is crazy and sometimes temperamental.
In other words, I am no stranger to snow, hail, sleet, blizzards, snowmageddons, nor’easters, bomb cyclones, and hurricane strength winds that knock the power out for days on end.
I have bathed out of a bucket, used the backwoods as a toilet, and burned enough candles to light up Alaska in December.
I have collectively shoveled enough snow in my lifetime to fill the Taj Mahal, have chiseled ice from my windshield with the sharp end of a pair of jumper cables, and defrosted a car door with the highest setting of my blow dryer.
And as of this past Wednesday, I can add “driven in blizzard-like conditions” to my resume. Don’t get me wrong. I have driven in snow before. Lots of times. But this was different.
First, let me give you a little background on my driving career. I got my license when I was eighteen years old because I was lazy, not scared. My first car was a Chevy Nova with an eight cylinder, 350 engine under its hood.
Because my parents thought this was apparently a good idea.
My favorite pastime was to do donuts, burn rubber, and drag race down the Taconic State Parkway at midnight. When I was a senior in high school, “Mario” was my nickname.
In other words, I loved driving and still love it. I am not afraid to get behind the wheel. I will drive anywhere, anytime, with or without a navigator. If I get lost, I get an unnatural thrill. A little bit of a high.
I no longer do the crazy things of my youth, but I have been known to put upwards of twenty thousand miles on my car in a year. This gives DH anxiety. I get the “wear and tear” lecture at least once monthly.
But like a petulant child, I pay him no mind. Cars are meant to be driven and dammit I’m driving them.
The Kid had spring break this past week, and spent half of it in Chicago. She and a friend had airline tickets to return home on Wednesday. In the middle of a major snowstorm.
After changing flights five times and having them all get cancelled, they were able to get on a flight that stuck. It was pretty much the only flight that got off the ground that day. And it seemed an airport an hour was shutting down all the way from Philly to Hartford.
When I received the text that announced they were buckled in their seats and getting ready for take-off, I threw on my trusty parka and snow boots and started my approximate hour and a half drive to the airport.
Mind you, shortly before I left it had begun snowing lightly. In fact, we were in disbelief that the airports cancelled all morning flights as the storm didn’t even start until nearly noon. But it is not my business to question these things.
All I knew is I was happy my kid got on a flight. It was a miracle and it was going to be a miraculous day.
Little did I know HOW miraculous it was going to turn out to be.
In less than an hour, the lightly falling snow turned into a storm of epic proportions. One that even the Abominable Snowman would stay in his cave for. Aside from the fact I almost lost control of the car and ended up under an eighteen-wheeler, the ride down was fairly uneventful. It only took me about a half hour longer to get to my destination. No thanks to snowplows.
Note: Getting stuck behind a snow plow in a nor’easter is where you want to be, as frustrating as it is. I like to refer to this operation as “The Parting Of the Seas.”
After I gathered the girls, we started on our journey home. It was still light at that point. Not that it made a bit of difference. The fact that there was a full-on white-out made it nearly impossible to see twenty feet past my nose anyway.
The snow was piling up on the highway faster than cow dung at a cattle roundup. We experienced more fish tails than the Great Barrier Reef, and saw more cars slide off the road than Pinky Tuscadero ever did.
The drive was a harrowing experience, laced with white knuckles, bowel anxiety, and at one point, a dashboard filled with flashing lights. Even my little Subaru was trying to tell me something.
“Sue.” The little car that could. That girl is a beast and I owe our safety all to her.
After four hours and thirty minutes, one pit stop for a bathroom break and the de-icing of the windshield later, we we were just about home.
There was nothing anyone wanted to do more than eat tacos, lie on the couch and watch some Netflix. It’s all we were talking about for the last two hours of our trip.
As we turned onto our road (“turning” is an understatement — my Nova days flashed before my eyes) we all saw three consecutive bright flashes that lit the entire night sky. As if someone was putting on a light show welcoming us home. It would have been beautiful, had it not been what it was.
As we pulled up to our house, we were met with complete and utter darkness. That beautiful light show was a blown transfuser on fire a mile up the road.
Tacos turned into turkey sandwiches on stale bread. And Netflix turned into an early bedtime with a book lit by candlelight. Although, I almost burned down the house. Candles are dangerous and should not be allowed in the vicinity of me.
By morning the power hadn’t come back on, which also meant no water. So, I got my butt up, took a “whore bath,” which is something I learned to do from DH’s grandmother (bless her soul), and went into work where I sat alone because no one was crazy enough to drive in. Which was a good thing because an unshowered me is none too pleasant.
I was happy and enjoying the all too often taken for granted electricity, heat and flushing toilets while the rest of the suckers in my town lived their day out like an episode of Little House on the Prairie.
In retrospect, I should have gotten a hotel near the airport for the girls and picked them up the next morning. Then again, we wouldn’t have the memories. Even amid the white knuckles and clenched bums, we had some good laughs.
Would I do it again? Of course. Because although you can take the girl out of 1985, you can’t take 1985 out of the girl. That’s just how I roll.