(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
January of 2005 started calm and cold. I bundled up to walk to my personal care assistant job six mornings a week along with second shift at the Harvard Coop bookstore five days a week, seven hours a day. During my evening shifts, I rode an ancient elevator to the cavernous basement storeroom when customers requested specific sizes not on display. Mice darted in and out of the shadows. It bothered me that the storeroom was always a mess — and it wasn’t my job to fix it. I obviously inherited my dad's precise organization. I sometimes had dreams of searching for something important among never-ending boxes in chaos.
The day of Beth’s last final exam, a classmate pushed her through rising snow to and from the test. The snowfall shifted to a winter storm, burying sidewalks and cars. The worst of the blizzard hit on a Sunday. A snow emergency. Unearthing the car was not possible. Besides, there was nowhere to go. Ellsworth Avenue had endless drifts much too high to drive through. Everything closed, including the Coop, but I was scheduled to scribe for a final exam.
The blizzard set records for New England, and not in a good way.
When I couldn’t reach anyone by phone, I decided to walk to the Quad for the test, scheduled at the same dorm where the student with cerebral palsy lived. I also wanted to check on my snowbound daughter.
I layered my clothes and added an extra pair of socks. The first person in my apartment building to try to leave, I worked for several minutes to free the frozen front door. Next, I fought with the icy snowdrift forming a barricade on the porch side. I could barely squeeze out. The porch floor, steps, and sidewalks disappeared in an ocean of white.
Frigid blasts blew my breath away.
I waded through thigh-high drifts on Ellsworth to Broadway. An attempt had been made to clear the bigger street, making my ankle boots briefly useful. I walked in the road around abandoned cars, even though I couldn’t begin to hear a vehicle approaching with the wind. The few cars on the ice-covered street drove slowly.
I advanced half a block and turned back, ready to give up, when a lady in a van offered me a ride. She headed north on Mass Ave and told me she had never picked up anyone before.
It was a first for me, too.
Next: Blizzard, Part 2!
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