Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Snow Removal Plan Is "Let's Wait for It To Get Warmer."

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.


Kimberly said...

I just love how "everything is back to normal" now that you're home, safe and sound. Hank is awesome! And Laura hugged back...I do believe that's epic. You are blessed with such a sweet family!

Michele R said...

I thought for sure you'd say you had to land in a different airport. Glad you are back safe and sound. My flight out Wed a.m. for work was canceled. Had to spend 2.5 hours on conf call instead of being there (kicking my sock-laden feet in joy). That WAS a white-knuckler for sure getting you! Still so icy today. Oh and with Monday as MLK day off they won't go back to Tuesday! There go all the extra days built in the rest of the year and a day or so added to end of year!

Amy said...

I am laughing at the emotional depth of Matt's texts, and realizing that "oof" really does say it all.

So much here to respond to!! I'll just say that I'm glad you made it safely and that the part about mama managing from a distance is so true!! When I was away for a couple days in October and the girls got whooping cough, the dr and the health service were calling me and then I was calling Jason. But I actually preferred it that way for some crazy reason.

And I can't believe no one stopped to help you!! Hello, isn't this the south?

Jenni said...

Quite the odyssey! Glad you made it home safe.

Keely said...

Wait, what? You told me NO LATER THAN THE 4TH so I obediently took my damn tree down.

Also, I'm glad you made it back safely. But mostly the tree thing.

Jen said...

Wow, that is craziness! I have a ton of cousins in Atlanta, to include several cops, so they have been relaying the nuttiness of the weather. Ironically, we moved from CA to (northern) VA last summer partially to have a real winter this year.

Guess who lives in the only area where it has not snowed worth a darn...*sigh* and feel free to send the snow our way!

Kelly said...

How on earth did you guys make it down the hill in your neighborhood? I haven't left the house since Sunday because I was too nervous to drive. Glad you're back and things can return to normal! xoxo

Becky said...

Keely, I know! But I left town on the 6th! I never thought I'd be gone so long. As for why I didn't get it down the weekend before that...I don't really remember but I'm sure I was REAL BUSY OKAY?

Plus this way we can leave the tree up to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Becky said...

Kelly, Matt went out the back way. That big hill was jammed with stuck cars, so even with the chains he couldn't get through. Actually, without the chains he wouldn't have gotten up out of our cul de sac.

jo said...

Summer here in Australia & we are flooded in, no better off than you but warm & wet while we are doing it

Fantastic Forrest said...

Holy cow. That is some wild time.

I really like that your tree is still up. We Forrests appreciate this new tradition of MLK Jr. celebration. In fact, we might keep ours up until Valentine's Day.

Star said...

What a wonderful post, thank you! I lived in L.A. for years, and miss it terribly (except for the earthquakes). Having abandoned driving these last 16.5 years thanks to good local public transportation, I don't think I could get used to driving, again, either, but it was lovely to live L.A. vicariously, even if only for a few minutes, thanks!

Elizabeth said...

I'm so sorry that your journey back was so difficult! We finally took our tree down this week -- Christmas is finally a memory.

Sylvia said...

You all make me feel so much better! The only reason the tree got down this week is that we were snowed-in. Hope the kids had fun - my husband is the fun parent too... So it was his idea to pull out the beach boogy boards and use them to sled down our yard. Yep, Daddy's the fun one!

Megan said...

My husband's the fun one, too, like yours and Sylvia's... sleds and all. The snow and sledding were fun for maybe a day and a half, but I didn't come to Atlanta to become an ice road trucker, you know, ya'll? Thank goodness the daycare is right up there with the WaHo (love that abbreviation) in their intrepidosity. We keep risking our lives to get them there and back for everyone's sanity. Any-whosy, glad you got home safely and found warmth!

Veronica said...

Yikes! Glad you made it home safely!

My Kids' Mom said...

"so slippery I had to concentrate very hard to keep from busting my boop" -- now that is a sentiment I can get behind. The story of Atlanta.

My hub went into the dining room with the laptop and told us he was "at work" and so I got all the stuck at home parenting this week. Oof.

puncturedbicycle said...

We had flu over Christmas/New Year, so left our tree up a little longer so we could milk some proper enjoyment out of it - oh and also because the severe post-viral energy deficit meant we were basing any physical movement on the bottom two rungs of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

I'm so glad to hear you got home okay! I lived the drama in real time following you on Twitter.

EdgyJuneCleaver said...

Becky, Guilt Be Gone! Your kids are going to fondly remember the week they were snowed in with just Daddy and wasn't it fun and exciting?

The Universe works in marvelous ways and this ice storm was the vehicle you getting a much deserved break.

Common Household Mom said...

That snow removal plan is NOT working where I am. Please revise plan. I'm glad to hear you got back home, harrowing though the trip was.

Haven't you been the one saying "Oof" often enough?

Amy said...

I love the smalltalk weather-vs-real estate observation. So fabulously SubMat. And the fact that the Delta folks (were they in Delhi?) so obligingly booked you a seat on Monday, just prior to hanging up and laughing themselves silly. Classic customer "service."