Sunday, December 21, 2008

What It Feels Like To Live In Boston Now

There is a standard New England joke that if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes it will change. Lately with ice storms and snow storms and icy snowy sleety suicide driving, I'm thinking, don't like the weather, wait 15 seconds and it will change for the worse. We have had some heart-stopping weather for the past week, as you all probably know. I was spared the ice storm fiasco, but we all know friends suffering and just as they were barely getting everyone back to functional, we got sucker punched again Friday.

I was working in Lexington on the afternoon of the big storm, feeling pretty smug about the complete lack of precipitation at 1:00 PM, after they'd dismissed school kids early at 11:45, warned us that all hell was about to break loose, feeling pretty cocky, thinking "so what's the big deal?" My son was spending the weekend with his dad and I knew they were all safe and sound.

I live in Arlington now and figured the short drive home wouldn't be much to be concerned with. I got busy with work and even though I'd planned to leave at 4:00 pm, suddenly got a good instinct that leaving by 3:00 pm might make more sense.

You Bostonians know the punchline to this story, don't you? Friday afternoon. Remember? It went from benign to catastrophic in a very short time. I kind of lifted my head from my work, peeked out the window at 2:30 and nearly flipped. The weather had gone from nothing much two hours before, to full on snow-blowing-in-sideways-like-a-wall blizzard. Blizzard ... have you ever been in one? It's like a Wizard of Oz House of Snow landing on your head.

I got on Rt. 128 with the intention of taking Rt. 2 down into Arlington ... all good intentions but instantly understood that I'd chosen the wrong vehicle ... what the hell had I chosen an automobile for, when a snowboard would have been more useful.

Cars were crawling, sliding, stopping dead in front of you, losing track of the lanes which had gone from 4 to 2. I couldn't see much, they couldn't see much, all of us knew everyone was in trouble, this was not pretty. The stuff we were driving on was the consistency of dry crumbly pie crust dough, but made of slush, snow, ice, and under this layer was very dangerous patchy ice. Traction?! What's that? Oh yeah, that's what we don't have now and later in the hospital with a broken leg, we will find ourselves in.

Yes, kids, it was bumper car time with 18 wheelers! "This is like a frigging video game," I kept thinking as my front window would get clear, steam up, ice up, melt a little, ice over, gob up with snow and slush, "a video game where I get run over like a bug."

And that was just the three exits worth of thrills and chills on Rt. 128. Next was Rt. 2, a big toboggan run disguised as a highway. Again, people were slaloming along at a fairly reasonable pace and then some unfortunate blockhead would stop dead in front of you for no clear reason, or some ass in a warlike fashion would fly past you in their SUV making you eat their slush. As the hill got really steep around Arlington Heights and the Park Ave exit, I saw a bunch of cars just stopping in mid-highway. The visibility was so lousy, I couldn't see what was ahead of them ... they looked like they'd all stopped dead to look at dinosaurs suddenly crossing the highway or something equally shocking. At that steep height, like a bunch of kids in line at the pool's high diving board deciding they didn't really want to jump, they looked ... scared.

Jeez ... I decided to take the exit ramp and inch down the peripheral super steep roads that line Route 2. God knows why I thought they would be better, but they were. They had one excellent feature ... no other drivers! Or just a few intrepid "fellow travelers" who were navigating rather expertly, leaving me alone. Eventually I made my way to East Arlington and home. Yes, home, I got there ... shaken, icy, exhausted, I made it. And no "Honey, I'm home!" that day, but rather "Honey, I'm alive!" was my greeting.