I'm sure karma had something to do with it, because I said, for two days, that this winter strom would turn out to be a dud.
After finishing my post yesterday, I got up from my table to get dressed for work. My mom said "big flakes!" and it was the first moment that I realized that the snow was stickiong and far more dramatic than I first thought.
Still, I set off for work; I know how to drive in snow, and where we were, things looked passable. And surely, plowing and salting were underway.
I knew I was in trouble when, one town over, I started to skid just trying to get up a minor incline. Major hills were in fact easier than mild grades. I called my boss to say the roads were looking bad, but we agreed I should still be on my way.
Then I turned onto Route 133, one of about 3 options I had to get from where I live to where I work. It's something of a country road, two lanes, rolling hills, but I figured since it was a major connecting point for the county, it must be getting attention.
But it wasn't. It was pretty clear, right away, that we were in for trouble. Cars were packed onto the road, lots of spinning out, and trees, as predicted, were collapsing under the weight of the laready heavy snow.
I made it about half way towards work on this road when traffic just stopped. Using what judgement I could, I decided it was best to turn around and make it back to the side road I knew connected back to a mjor artery. I figured from there I had options to either try and get to work or head home.
And about 100 feet after turning around, I slid off the road into a ditch.
After the initial panic, I was surprisingly calm and sanguine about it. I mean, once you accept the reality of your situation, there's not much to do: here you are, and you're stuck. Unless someone pulls you out, you're not going anywhere.
And I wasn't going anywhere.
Four hours later, the magnitude of the disaster was apparent. Between listening to the news, and taking to drivers as they passed - slowly - it was clear that, across Westchester, this was really bad. Roads were unpassable. Trees down everywhere, Power outages all over.
And now, it was getting dark.
Something about the darkness simply froze my soul. I'd seen to many movies, heard too many stories. What if a tree fell? What fi power lines came down around me? It was clearly hours before help would come, if ever. And the fuel truck, which had slid off the road before me, just feet in front of me, had been pulled out. Now I was alone. The 4 other cars that had come off the road near me were all abandoned. No houses were really that close.
It was at that moment that a red truck pulled up, and yet another nice lady asked me if I was okay and if help was on the way. I said, more earfully than before, that I didn't know quite what to do. At which point she leaned over, and her husband leapt out from the driver side, grabbed a shovel, and dug out my tires. Then he got in front of me, and pushed the car as I tried to back out.
At first, we made a little progress, but the wheels started spinning. Then he dug around again, went back to the front, and pushed again. This time the car awkwardly lurched onto the road. I was free. Before I could even finish my heartfelt thanks, they were gone.
Driving back on 133 was an almost entirely unfamiliar landscape. Cars were abandoned everywhere, trees had fallen. I passed the remains of a burned out shell of a car, what I can only assume resulted from a power line fall. Further on, a mail truck was jacknoifed going down a hill. I barely got around it.
I pulled into a gas station, called my mom, called my boss, and had a hot dog for dinner. I'd been trapped for four hours. And really, I was one of the lucky ones, getting dug out and able top ride to safety. I debated staying at the gas station. Eventually, abdout 45 minutes later, I decided to attempt the ride home the rest of the way. More downed trees, but the roads from here were in better shape.
In my own town, the power was completely out. Fire had broken out, burning down a local restaurant my mom and I had eaten at multiple times. They were barely letting cars through, but my house was on the near side of the fire trucks. I got home, hugged my mom, and sat in the dark. The wonderful, blessed, candle-lit dark of home.
Thirteen months ago, a tree fell on my car, and I survived. Yesterday, I spent four hours in a ditch in a blinding snowstorm. There's no punch line to this. No feeling of invincibility. Between those evnts I feel like a lot of clarity has fallen into my life - what matters, what doesn't, what it takes to survive and carry on.
That and I've learned that we can survive best when we are there to help one another. I'm grateful to the kindness and decency of strangers. I always joke with my mother, at the end of especially sentimental films and TV shows, that they "kind of restoore your faith in humanity." This morning, my faith is thoroughly restored. And now, it's probably back to work.