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Sunday, 1.23.05: Snowstorm 1993

We are in the path of the current Great Snowstorm that's socking in New York City and Boston. It's piled up all right and for the morning we might be immobilized, but it doesn't feel all that unusual.

Glancing out the back door at the buried deck furniture, I had a sudden memory: the Great Snowstorm of March 1993. Jim and I had already decided to get married - after 17 years happily denouncing the idea of marriage from our conveniently spaced condos. But we made the assumption that a happy marriage would require a great big house that gave us each lots of "personal space." We got a realtor. My condo went on the market. Jim had new linoleum put on his kitchen floor to ready his for market. We began looking at postings for big old Victorian houses in the city.

Then Jim broke his leg. We were skiing at Bristol Mountain and somehow his ski got stuck in the snow and his binding didn't release. Crack. A compound fracture of both bones in his lower leg. Ski patrol... ambulance... surgery... crutches. Duty calls.

I was already damn tired of keeping my little condo spic-and-span for prospective buyers, so I decided I'd move in with my temporary invalid.

The weekend after he broke his leg, the blizzard hit. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was thigh-high -- fluff that was impossible to walk on and even cross-country skis seemed ruled out. Jim had purchased a couple pairs of old wood and leather snowshoes - "bearclaws" - the season before and I decided to try them out. They worked well enough, but clearly I didn't have the knack and was exhausted after a few yards. (They are still sitting decoratively in the window off our basement utility room, never to be touched again.)

After my snowshoe adventure, I decided to shovel the mass of snow off the back deck. In my own way, I had already designated the deck a "sacred place." It was there that we sat in the spring of 1992 and envisioned our trip to Pakistan and western China. (Oh hell, who needs hotel reservations on the Silk Route? Let's just GO!) Our five weeks of enduring one damn thing after another was what softened us to the idea that we could do anything together and maybe marriage wasn't such a bad idea.

So there I was, moving a mountain of snow. I had a vision of our living in a big house and me shoveling a long driveway. I don't want a big house, I thought. I don't want a driveway.

I went back into the house and told Jim I'd figure out how to integrate myself into his townhouse. All I needed was a single room of my own. Jim pointed to a room on the second floor that was full of vintage cameras - the Leica room.

While Jim was immobilized, I flew into an organizing frenzy, putting most of my energy into installing organizing shelves into closets. He could only stare helplessly as I marched by with black trash bags full of crap he'd been hanging on to. The only thing he ever missed was a broken pencil sharpener.

And so, I never say snow storms are bad things.


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