A blur of otherworldly white

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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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24 Comments

  1. Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    What a month it has been. There is so much beautiful language in this piece. This- “It has been a blur of white, inside and out, snow on both sides of the glass, a time historic and difficult both inside and out.” being my favorite. I have yet to read the Oliver Saks piece. I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it….

    admin Reply:

    It is really powerful – let me know what you think. xo

  2. Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    I live in SC now, but I grew up in OH, and I still remember that surreal quality of being snowed in. Thank you for sharing!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! SC sounds good right about now!

  3. Isabelle
    Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful post, you have captured this Boston winter so well. Aside from the physical difficulties of this winter (getting around, endless shoveling, battling roof issues) what I have noticed is how dramatically my perceived passage of time slowed. You have also nailed what seems to me to be a key truth of adulthood: “Sometimes what we have has to be enough.” Thank you and here’s to warmer, brighter days soon!

    admin Reply:

    Yes. Everything is moving so slowly. Which I already know I’ll miss. I already miss it, even when I’m IN it. Thank you so much for citing that sentence. It feels at the core,to me, of how I feel about this last month and life in general. xox

  4. Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I love this, Lindsey – not that it’s been a hard month for you, but the words you have chosen to frame it with here.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much, xoxo

  5. Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Like Stacey, my favorite line here was “snow on both sides of the glass”–you really captured the essence of the past several weeks with that image, Lindsey. The whole post, in fact, is exactly how I felt about the staggering snow and its consequences. I had an epiphany somewhere around storm #3 after much indoor and involuntary isolation with my family (and the attendant emotions that go with that), which was this: this is survival, in a sense, and I now know that I could really get through anything with just my husband and daughter, even if (especially if) they were the last two souls on earth. I’m walking away with a lot of security and love knowing this now. But also? I’m VERY ready for spring.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, I hear you. Sometimes I’ve reflected on how much I love being in a car, at night, with just the four of us- it feels like we are the only people in the world. That’s sort of what the last month has felt like, in a way. xoxo

  6. Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I love how you write your raw, honest truths for the world to share. You really do help us find the warmth at the core of it all. xo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so, so much. What a nice thing to say. xox

  7. Posted February 25, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I haven’t had such crazy work hours as you, but this is exactly how I’ve felt: “It has been a blur of white, inside and out, snow on both sides of the glass…” I think it’s been hard to be inside but feel so very cold and distant from everything on the other side of the glass and walls. Such a great post.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate hearing that. xox

  8. Posted February 25, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    My heart goes out to you – and all my friends and family in the Northeast. It has been a rough month for me, as well. Our family of six suffered with the flu, over a three week period, alternating of course. Just when everyone was well, the ice hit Atlanta and we’re bracing for snow. But I will not complain – especially after seeing your picture!

    admin Reply:

    I’m so sorry to hear that – hope everyone is on the mend now. And that the snow/ice in Atlanta is manageable!

  9. Allison W
    Posted February 25, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Well said. I feel like we are in pure survival mode between cabin fever, illness and 2 hour commutes, while at the same time, the sheer beauty and awesomeness of our frozen landscape can’t be ignored…and the light is coming back as the days lengthen. I have also been reminding myself daily that I have a lot to be grateful for–a warm house, a healthy husband who can shovel, healthy kids who can sled, an all wheel drive car (even if I am spending a lot of time in it), plenty of food to eat (and more time to cook because we are inside)…that has helped. Stay warm.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, yes, and yes. I honestly think it’s the driving and the commute time that has been the biggest stressor on our family, and then I remind myself how hugely fortunate I am that mostly I can work in my house. Most people do not have that privilege.

  10. Posted February 25, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully said, Lindsey, as always. I hope life and your world returns to color, soon. xo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! xox

  11. Posted February 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    This post is gorgeous and bittersweet Lindsey. I feel for you as it sounds like this month has been (and still is) quite challenging. Yet, you’re getting through, and I suspect with more grace than most, despite snappy moments, sandy eyes, etc.

    Your last line moved me as much as the poignant Mr. Sachs, what grace both of you possess: “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.”

    Good luck getting through the rest of this busy wintery time. Spring will be that much sweeter, I suspect, and here’s hoping it comes sooner than later.

    admin Reply:

    I hope your suspicion is right. Someone told me that they’re already predicting a hotter-than-usual summer. Sigh!

  12. Posted February 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Here’s hoping my repetitive use of the word “grace” doesn’t diminish its meaning, my own eyes are quite sandy as well.

    admin Reply:

    Not at all 🙂 xoxo

  13. Alison Buck
    Posted February 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The deafening silence and beauty of winter impacts my spirit so deeply! Lovely piece, Lindsey❤️

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much, dear one. It is interesting, when I think about it, our memories are all in the hot summer sun! xo

  14. Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I feel for you my friend. I have many of the same feelings WITHOUT 90 inches of snow. When I think of my friends in Boston, I keep thinking about that Ray Bradbury story “All Summer In A Day?” I have no idea why. I blame Seasonal Affective Disorder. Hang in there. Hoping Boston has the most amazing spring it has ever seen. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    I often tell people that I’m from Boston and my husband is from Vermont, we are generally not bothered by snow or cold, but this winter has really been entirely different. xoxo

  15. Posted February 25, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Oh Lindsey. You have so captured in words the harshness of life and the nature at the core of it. I felt everything here – the sadness at not being able to relax with your kids and also the power of the weather to distill everything even if it’s just to marvel at snow on both sides of the class. And what I marvel about is your optimism and your ability to find the nuggets of good even in the brutal. I come away inspired and lightened and committed to see my own life through these eyes. Thank you.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, I appreciate your saying this – sometimes it feels like I’m drowning under the harshness, so I’m grateful to hear that the optimism (which I do feel, in spurts) shows through.

  16. Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    This was so honest and I bet it describes the back and forth that many of you North Easterners (is that a term? with caps?) have felt with those snow days. The wonder vs. the tedium. The way life sort of stops . . . yet doesn’t because work marches forward, etc. We have had a mild winter, but we’ve certainly had weeks like that in the past. That reminder of control is so true . . . because it’s always the case– no control, but sometimes it takes the weather to remind us.

    admin Reply:

    Wonder and tedium – is there a better way to encapsulate life itself? Perhaps not! xox

  17. Posted February 26, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Similar tremors here, though less snow. I clutch the promise of spring and the sweetness I know will eventually lift from these harried days, when softened by time. Sending wishes of the day coming soon when you will find yourself unexpectedly drawing a breath deepen enough that your shoulders fall and your face settles into a spirit-deep smile.

    xo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. And yes, I’m aware of that sweetness even as I’m deep in the frustration and snowbanks – it’s strange, actually, the way my sense of what I’ll miss and love even when the dust settles or the snow clears is more and more acute with every year. xo

  18. Posted February 26, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I’m hoping March brings a bit of a respite for all of us… what a month February has been. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    Me too! So far it’s pretty cold!

  19. Gale
    Posted February 26, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about you often this winter as I watch the snow totals climb for Boston. And that was without knowing of the demands of your professional life. A lot of what you describe sounds pretty miserable. But I applaud you for finding the redeeming elements of it as well. Hopefully March will bring the beginnings of a thaw.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. Not sure I deserve applause, but I appreciate it. And yes, here’s hoping we start to thaw soon. xox

  20. Kathie
    Posted February 26, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey – I hope the sun shines up there in Boston so some of that snow can melt. And I hope you all are able to escape a bit this spring for a much needed break! xo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! Yes … off on break on the 14th. Can’t wait!

  21. Posted February 26, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I’ve been thinking of you every time I hear the news about Boston…your story is so real. The bittersweet of being neither in nor out, of feeling the world collapse on you literally and figuratively. Sending hugs and hope for a smooth thaw…

  22. Posted February 26, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I always love your posts, but this one is especially beautiful. xox

  23. Posted February 27, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I am living these words. I agree with others, “Sometimes what we have must be enough” is a powerful sentiment.

    I am so sad to hear about Dr. Sacks. His feeling about his generation, “each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself” is what my great grandfather said was the hardest part about living to be a very old man. You mourn the loss of part of yourself when someone close to you dies. But what a great man to be able to commit himself to a life well lived, even as he counts down to months and days.

  24. Posted March 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry. This has me laughing. I feel the same way. All of it. Including the fact that “these weeks have been so removed from real life they have had a magical quality to them.” This goes so well with the exhausted crankiness of multiple snow days in yoga pants with work to be done, right? The snow really is stunning and magical and yet, as a grown-up, life moves on and things need to get done. You’ve captured that beautifully here.