When I was younger and pretending to be a grown up, I got stuck in an ice storm. I was living in Montreal. When the storm started I was alone and far away from my house. The sky was grey, I was confused that the subway didn’t work and I walked home.
We had no heat or electricity. We went to bars and coffee shops and felt very much a part of something. I was happy that I didn’t have to write an essay. We shopped in grocery stores lit by candlelight. It felt romantic. We were all surviving.
My friend’s mother was staying with us. She had tried to leave but her train got stuck. She had to walk through a farmer’s field to the nearest highway to hitch a ride back to our ice palace. She made tea for herself by placing a glass of water over a candle. At nights, she volunteered as a guard for a retirement home. I was glad she was there because I knew if things got any worse, whatever camping situation we had set up would fall short.
Maybe three days in, I forget now, a policewoman skated by our house and told us not to drink the water. The filtration system for the city was broken. The candlelit grocery stores had been emptied of food, with no new stock coming in until the roads cleared. My friend’s mother went out right away and procured two large bottles of water for us. I am not sure how, we were too stricken to act.
I was tired then. Tired of sitting in bed, and living on butter. I felt sad for the trees and for myself and I wished I hadn’t been so quick to rejoice over the schoolwork that I would eventually have to do. A couple days later the heat came on.
But really the storm had been a short respite for me. I was depressed in the never-ending Montreal winter. I was almost finished a degree that I felt I had no interest or passion in whatsoever. I had the strange feeling of being and acting outside of myself most of the time.
Today, we got stuck in an ice storm. I was reminded of my experience 16 years ago and how much richer and fuller my life is now and for the most part, how I love what I do with my time.
I am still, however, capable of plodding away at projects that do not hold my interest. I am still capable of getting so sad that the person I am is no longer present.
Today, I am grateful for the particular piece of dry ground that I stand on. Grateful, knowing that it can be slippy and shifting. And thankful, remembering that when it was icy, there was always someone there who quietly recognized my unsure footing and, saying nothing, helped me steady.