Clay called this afternoon, on his way home from work.
“How are ya?”
“I am INCONSOLABLE,” I replied.
I muttered about the snow, and the cold, and the walls closing in.
“Oh, but you’re not trapped in the house RIGHT NOW, so why worry about it? It might not even happen.”
I treated him to a small silence, meaning that he may be a little “right” but that doesn’t stop him from being entirely “wrong.”
Nonetheless, he was on his way home, and offered to hold down the fort so I could go to the gym before the roads got too bad. Sorely in need of an endorphin hit, I accepted, and set out for the gym as soon as he arrived home.
It was about 4:15 by then, and had been snowing steadily for about six hours. The roads were difficult, but not impossible yet. I arrived at the gym, slogged my way through slush with a new coating of snow, and walked into the canned light of the gym.
The chirpy young thing behind the desk gave me frowny face.
“You didn’t read the sign on the door?” I glanced over my shoulder. Sign? Door? “Yeah, we’re closing at 5:00 tonight. Sorry!” I took my ID card back from her and said mild, understanding things through clenched teeth. I threw my stuff in a locker, and set to abusing and elliptical trainer for the next 40 minutes. Every fifteen minutes or so the gym manager got on the loudspeaker to say in an artificially low voice, “Attention, members. We will be closing in 30 minutes.” Every time he announced the time I snarled under my breath, because WHAT, we can’t TELL TIME? And plus, he was shaving 5 minutes off the time between now and 5:00.
Finally, with about a minute and a half to spare, I snatched my towel and water bottle and stalked back to the lockers. The chirpy young thing from the front desk was there, changing.
“Oh, hi,” she said. “Ready for the snow?”
“Not really. Not after last week,” I replied. She sighed.
“Yeah, I know. I’m gonna go see if I can get stuck at a friend’s house instead of going home. I just can’t stand the thought of being stuck in my apartment – alone – again.”
Ooohh, that’s right.
I stood there for a minute, staring at a row of lockers. I remember. I wished her well in the storm, said good bye, and headed out, my head full of pictures from another storm.
When I was 21 and a new Denverite, I got stuck in my apartment during a snowstorm. I had moved from Southern New Mexico, so snow was bizarre enough for me, but a BLIZZARD? I was stunned.
I didn’t own a TV at the time, and I had planned to go to the library that day. But instead two and a half feet of snow fell, and I was stuck at home – with nothing to read but the books I'd just finished. I tried to hike to the nearest store for a magazine, a newspaper, an assortment of nutrition labels, ANYTHING to read. But it was hard work, hiking through all that snow. Plus, I was sick, and the cold triggered a coughing fit. I dragged myself back to my apartment. As I pulled off my coat and gloves, the cough gripped my chest and I choked and wheezed and sat down to catch my breath. I was coughing so hard that my head started to spin and I ended up on my hands and knees, fighting for air between spasms. Finally, the coughs got so wrenching that they triggered my gag reflex, and I threw up.
Just then the lights flickered and went out.
I sat in the dark for a minute, catching my breath. I thought about all the things that were wrong: no lights, I’m sick, nothing to read, and I have to clean my floor now. I rocked back on my heels and this is what I keened in the dark,
“I’m all aloooooone!”
I thought about that storm through the whole slippery drive home. When I finally maneuvered into my driveway, the house glowed with light. I walked in the door and smelled the yeasty breath of bread rising on the counter. Boys’ games chirruped and beeped. Raphael ran over to me, bellowing a chorus of welcome. Clay came over to kiss me hello. Carmi shouldered her way in between us, wagging her tail vociferously.
The walls closed in, and it wasn’t half bad.