Saturday, January 29, 2011

baby snowmageddon

if i’d known when i left school at 4pm that the snowstorm would wreak havoc on normal rush hour traffic, i’d have filled my tank before i got on the beltway. as it was, i had just enough to get me to ben’s, even if it took me twice as long as usual. when i realized, around 5pm, that my commute would take much longer than usual, i called ben. i estimated i’d be there around 6. we chatted till my phone ran out of battery and cut us off. a few minutes later, the real traffic hit: i was moving about one car length every fifteen minutes. two hours later, i started eating the dinner i’d brought for the two of us. i turned up the radio and attempted to dance, belted into my seat. thirty minutes later, i wondered how crazy it would look to jump out and make a snow angel on the shoulder of the highway. i definitely had time and i didn’t think anyone would honk. two hours after that, i silently cursed the people for whom the rules didn’t apply as they created their own lanes. five minutes later, i joined them and drove a whole mile in ten minutes. it was exhilarating. an hour later, four lanes of traffic (and a few invented lanes) funneled into one, snaking around jack-knifed semis and other distressed vehicles stuck in the middle of the highway. twenty minutes after that was a tree, stretched across three lanes. around 8pm, i started hoping that ben would eat without me. then i put a few pieces of gum in my mouth to see how big a bubble i could blow. an hour later, i irrationally worried that he’d go to bed before i got there and send me back out on the highway towards home. with a sore jaw, i spit out my gum. around 10pm, on the exit ramp 1.5 miles from ben’s house, my car heaved and sputtered and coughed it’s last breath of gas and refused to move one inch further. four kind strangers helped me push it through the slush to the side of the road. a fifth kind stranger said he’d watch my vehicle in addition to his while i hitched a ride to get gas for the two of us. i politely asked the kind strangers to drop me off near ben’s house, instead of the gas station. at 10:30ish, i knocked on the door of a very worried ben. five minutes later, i collapsed into the passenger seat of christian’s car and the three of us went in search of gas. two stations later, we'd filled the 5 gallon can and headed back to the exit, dodging a downed power line. christian drove as close as he could to the exit ramp and ben and i sloshed the block across the intersection to my car and the waiting kind stranger. it took another thirty minutes, much spilled gas, some very cold gas-covered fingers (ben’s), a bit of creativity involving a long drinking straw, and another kind stranger’s flashlight to decant the gas into the cars. at midnight, 2 blocks from ben’s house, a large load of snow fell on the roof of my (now breathing, moving) vehicle. 10 feet later, we noticed the power line stretched across the road (a different one), making it impassable. we turned around to discover that what we thought was snow falling on my car was actually another power line, now stretched across the road and blocking our escape. so i parked and we gingerly stepped around the power lines and walked back to ben’s, arriving around 12:30am, stoked the fire, drank some tea and finally fell asleep.