It’s snowing for real today where I live, for the first time this winter. It’s beautiful, and it’s making me both introspective and nostalgic. I’m remembering the snow days of my childhood, that came like unexpected gifts, precious parcels of time falling suddenly into your lap out of nowhere. A day off, with no time to plan the endless activities that fill all the spare moments of weekends and holidays. A true pause in the daily grind. Something that I never have anymore.
These days, snow just means working in softer light. That’s the trouble with working from home: you’re always at work. You have to make time for time off, it never just comes to you. There are no surprises. As with many other parts of being an adult, all the mystery and excitement has been taken out of it and replaced with hard work and responsibility.
I remember in college, snow days were the best. Could we have put on our boots and bundled up and trudged through the blizzard to our classes? Sure! It wasn’t that far, and on foot it wasn’t even dangerous. But we didn’t. Sometimes our professors would cancel classes because they couldn’t get to work through the snow and the sleet, so we were genuinely off the hook. Other times we just didn’t show up, because it was snowing, and that meant that all responsibilities were suspended. We had a lifetime of experience to tell us so, childhood still so close behind us that half the time we forgot that we weren’t kids anymore. So instead of working we would put on our boots and bundle up and trudge through the snow to each other’s dorms and drink hot cocoa and watch old X-Files episodes, with so many people packed into a tiny room that we didn’t need the heating system to keep us toasty warm. The fire marshal probably would have fainted if he’d seen us squeezed together like that, like human sardines. It was bliss.
My apartment seems emptier then usual when it’s snowing. I want someone to share the miracle of snow with. Or better yet, about a dozen someones. I want cocoa and laughter, maybe a good old-fashioned snowball fight, or maybe just a cozy X-Files marathon. But all my friends would have to get in their cars to reach me, would have to brave the treacherous roads. The snow that used to bring us together now keeps us apart.
And I can’t help thinking about the future. It’s February, and this is the first blizzard of the year. Last year we’d had dozens already at this point in the season. A couple years before that, it snowed twice, once in October and once in March. The (relatively) predictable weather patterns of my childhood are gone, and what the future holds, no one knows for sure. Is this the last blizzard of the season, or will we have snow to the second story windows by April? No one knows. Climate change is like a lottery for weather patterns: you can play the odds, but in the end you get what you get.
I would like to enjoy this beautiful day. I would like to find some of the joy and freedom that came with snow when I was a kid. But instead I have a blog post to write, because I left it to the last minute again, and layouts to approve, and spreadsheets to balance, and on and on. I would like to revel in the beauty and the snugness, the warmth and closeness of being trapped at home with family. But my husband is in the other room working (he doesn’t get any days off for weather either), and my friends are all far away, and I can’t stop worrying about the future. Will all the snow days for the rest of my life be full of anxiety and responsibly? Have the dual blows of adulthood and climate change finally beaten down the childhood programing that taught me to associate snow with joy? Is this how it’s always going to be from now on?
Screw this, I’m going to go make some cocoa and watch the X-Files. I’m making some time to do nothing, before it’s too late.