I’m not going to lie to you: it’s been a difficult month. My professional life has a very busy few weeks every year (very busy – as in round-the-clock, 3-hours-of-sleep, can’t-leave-desk) and they happened to coincide with the relentless snow in Boston. In some ways that was a blessing: since 2011, I’ve gone to New York for what is for me a long stretch away from home to be there during this busy season, but this year, in part due to the blizzards, I stayed here. In other ways it was hard. I felt far away from the team I work with and it was difficult to really immerse myself into what could have been a joyful time at home.
In January of my sophomore year in college I broke my ankle. Because of this, instead of joining my friends for a week in Mexico as planned, I went home and got my wisdom teeth out. This past month has felt like nothing so much as that: challenge piled on unpleasantness, a cast on top of an ice pack on my mouth, aching and pain and a deep sense if isolation. More than once, Whit woke up in the night to go to the bathroom and found me sitting at my desk, a pool of light overhead and snow falling outside. More than a few times, when I finally did go to bed I couldn’t sleep, amped up with exhaustion and anxiety, which just added to the sand-in-my-eyes feeling the next morning.
I’ve been snappier and more cranky with my family than I want to be. I haven’t been able to go sledding when the children wanted to. Matt did a lot – a lot – of shoveling all by himself. I am as tired as I can remember being in years. I have barely exercised in a month. I have been wearing yoga pants or snowpants, and often both simultaneously, for as long as I can recall.
But at the same time, these weeks have been so removed from real life they have had a magical quality to them. It has been a blur of white, inside and out, snow on both sides of the glass, a time historic and difficult and, I’m already aware, unforgettable. I am grateful, most of the time, that I got to experience these historically snowy weeks here with Grace and Whit. I don’t think it’s bad that they see their mother working hard, and they have witnessed both laughter and tears – often daily.
I suspect part of what I love about snowstorms is the obvious: weather reminds us of how small we are, and how little true control we have. The endless snow actually cut away a lot of life’s BS. Just getting around Boston was so hard for a while that it felt like life had been distilled to its essence: my family, our house, and what we could walk to. Knowing I wasn’t able to leave my desk to really be with Grace and Whit the way I would have wanted makes me sad, but at the same time, I was here, and I am grateful for that. Sometimes what we have has to be enough. This is a lesson I’m learning over and over again.
The last month has stripped away any hard skin I had, and left me exposed, raw, exhausted, emotional. I read Oliver Sacks’ beautiful piece about learning he has terminal cancer, and the whole thing made me cry. But this last line, oh, it made me sob out loud:
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
This is love to me. Recognizing the beauty even when it appears in the midst of a crabby moment, 74 new emails in a half hour, snow so thick it covers the windows, an iceberg hanging off of the roof, and another snow day. I’m already aware of how golden and glazed with special-ness the last month has been, even as I emerge from it slowly, creaky and exhausted. It has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
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