Where I am from, I don’t see a lot of snow, and when I do… the city pretty much shuts down in response to the slightest flurry.
I am in Washington, DC now, and it is Winter time. It’s been a mostly mild Winter, void of any extreme cold temperatures. Which is exactly how I like my Winters to be: void of any cold. Despite this, I am still fascinated by snow. It’s still a novality and mystery to me.
The first time I drove in the snow was last night. I felt wonder and uncertainty in equal measures. The snow seemed both magic and dangerous, as I made my way to my evening class. In some places the snow cover was so complete, I couldn’t see the lines on the road. At other times, the snow seemed as delicate and weightless as smoke, dancing in vortex on the surface of the road. The falling snow swirled all around me everywhere and came directly at my windshield, reminding me of a 3-D movie experience. I genuinely felt like I was inside of a snow globe.
Being behind the wheel did not make me feel anymore in control; although I was comfortable and warm, I kept wishing I had taken public transportation. I didn’t want to be the reason something bad happened. I was acutely aware that I was driving on ice, and it made me hyper vigilant about being safe.
At some moments, traffic speeds reduced to less than 15 miles per hour. I ended up arriving late to class. When I got out of class at 10pm, the roads were still teaming with commuters trying to get home. My normal 30 min drive took me an hour and thirty minutes. I began celebrating as I passed under the green stoplights of the next to last intersection right before my final turns home. Normally after passing that intersection, I travel a short distance to the next intersection, where I make one final turn left onto the street my complex is located on, then one last right turn onto the road leading directly home; it normally takes me no more than 3 to 5 mins.
As it turns out, my celebration was a bit early and short lived. 20 mins out of the entire time it took me to get home was spent traveling that small distance, stalled between two major intersections, stuck on the other side of a greenlight that ironically did not mean “go”.
Being so close to home, made the stall more unbearable. I played myself music to relax into the uncertainty. It was a song titled “In the Meantime”. I sat and let the music and the warmth from my car’s heater wash over me. As the fatigue of the long day, which began at 4am, and the strange exhaustion of sitting still for so long, began to set in, I began to fall asleep at the wheel. My head bobbed up and down as if agreeing with something, yet actually in a tug of war to remain conscious and alert. It was about thirty minutes until midnight; I was losing the war.
Then suddenly, a space opened up. The gridlocked cars in the center lanes were suddenly not gridlocked. I don’t remember seeing them move out of the way. I just remember the opaque road being visible. Then I heard a mechanical noise stirring behind me. Pulling up next to me, taking up probably three lanes, was what looked to me like a massive yet much speedier Zamboni. Behind it, a powerful shower of white crystals was propelled across the road. Not more snow… it was salt! The sprinkling of salt managed to reach each lane. I imagined a person throwing salt over their shoulder for good luck. And I felt my fortunes change.
The truck became an immediate symbol of hope and freedom to me. The salt truck literally paved my way home. A little salt transformed the stalled and stranded into a slow moving victory parade, with the snow still falling like ticker tape and the salt truck as the premier float.
At least that’s what it felt like. I was so relieved to be moving forward. It felt so good to be going home.