When you're in California, you kind of forget that there is weather elsewhere, you know? What I remember about living out there is that nobody ever, ever talked about the weather because it was too boring. Instead we talked about real estate.
So while I was at my conference late last week, I heard dire murmurings of a storm in the Southeast, but it all seemed improbable and fancifully distant, like Sarah Palin seeking the Republican nomination. Still, early Sunday morning, the day I was supposed to fly out, I woke up in the pre-dawn and thought I'd better check my flight status. That's when I saw that Delta had already canceled all its flights into Atlanta. A soothing fifteen minutes of hold music later, the nice Delta agent told me they'd rebooked me for a flight Tuesday, a flight that would show me the insides of two other airports on the way to Atlanta's.
Tuesday? This was Sunday morning. I said, "Can't I get a flight on Monday? And a direct one?" The agent obligingly re-rebooked me for Monday morning and I hung up. Then I called home and was told, "Wait, the weather Monday is supposed to be worse. They just wanted to get you off the phone." Sure enough, Sunday night, six inches of snow fell on the ATL, and turned to freezing rain on Monday. Thousands more flights were canceled and when I tried to rebook again--this time on Twitter, thanks @deltaassist!--a seat on a Tuesday flight was a dream that had died. So I knew at dawn on Monday that I wasn't leaving until Wednesday morning.
I texted Matt, snowbound in our house with the kids, the schools closed and the roads impassable, and gave him the news that he would be single parenting for a couple more days. He responded, "Oof."
One syllable can say so much.
That day was sunny, 60 degrees, and beautiful in LA. You know, boring non-weather. My friends and I went on a bike ride, had cocktails, watched a Big Love marathon. At times, some mommy guilt tried to break through. Reports were that Hank had a fever and the dog had peed on Laura's carpet. I called Matt.
"How crazy are you, on a scale of one to ten?" I asked.
"I'm not crazy," he insisted, sounding barely crazy at all, maybe only the tiniest bit. To my daily texts, telling him that schools were again closed the next day, he only responded, "Man." Matt strives for his texts to be no more than three characters. But for Matt, "Man" is an absolute cry from the heart.
And yet I think they had a good time. He is the fun parent, after all. They played games and watched movies. On Tuesday they hiked a mile, down and up a huge, snowy hill, to the Publix. Which they found closed. So you know, fun.
With my extra time in LA, I got together with blog friends: Beth, Gretchen, Elizabeth, and Jessica. That was wonderful. But I missed some folks. Turns out, I know a lot of people in LA! Next time I will be more systematic and set up some bloggy meetups.
Yes, so then, finally, I got on a plane on Wednesday morning. Atlanta was still in an icy state of emergency. There were reports of people stranded in the Atlanta airport, having flown in but unable to get ground transport. Matt told me that if I would take the Marta train to the northernmost point, he would come get me. I texted around and farmed the kids out for the afternoon so they wouldn't have to get on the road. (I know you are familiar with the fact that when you, the mother, are out of town, you nonetheless are the hub of all family/social communications. That's another post.)
Now, when I'd left Atlanta, it was chilly, not cold. I had a light down jacket--one of those Patagonia "down sweaters"-- and a hat that Erika had given me in LA. When I got off the train at the Doraville Marta station, with Matt still crawling through traffic far away, I realized the flaw in our plan. It was 21 degrees and felt a lot colder. There is nowhere at that station to wait out of the cold. It's all open. Matt told me to find somewhere close by to wait for him, so I set off down the road, dragging my suitcase through the ice. I had to walk in the street because the sidewalks were too treacherous. Even the middle of the street was so slippery I had to concentrate very hard to keep from busting my boop. Luckily there weren't many cars around.
Fortunately I only needed one hand to pull my luggage; I had to keep switching hands or they would have both fallen off. Did I mention it was cold? I wish I could say that everyone who drove by slowed down to ask me if I needed help or a ride. But nobody did. I was an abject figure, for sure. And even the police station was closed.
So, half a mile from the station (okay, it's .4 miles, I looked, but a half-mile flows better, yes?) I saw a Waffle House sign. I knew they would be open and they were. Waffle House! You can count on those people, you hear that, POLICE? I think the WaHo workers should fight crime, too.
I rolled triumphantly into a booth and ordered a coffee and a ham and cheese omelette. But drat it all, Matt appeared right then and ushered me out of there with a to-go coffee and no omelette at all. He was all, "It's almost dark and I barely made it and the roads are terrible and I'm worried about getting back and I had to put the chains on the car three times," and I, I, I, me, me, me. Like it's all about him, and the omelette-shaped hole in my belly was nothing.
I was a little glad to see him, though.
The drive back was a nail-biter. They weren't kidding when they told people to stay off the roads. But we made it and collected the kids. Hank said, "Now everything is back to normal!" And Laura even hugged me back and the dog was so happy to see me she cried.
The snow is crazy here. Deeper than I've ever seen it. They've closed the schools for tomorrow and Friday.
My Christmas tree is still up. Reader, now you know everything.
I hope your winter week has been safe and cozy, wherever you are.