It's snowing again! (Don't get me started.)
On Tuesday afternoon I was in Boulder for a meeting. When I went in, rain was falling down out of the sky. When I came out 90 minutes later, I was in what could be called a Winter Wonderland, but only by people who don't have to drive in it.
I live about 10 miles from Boulder, which is usually a meander from the central part of town to the back road I take to get home. It's a 15-20 minute drive, 25 minutes at commute time, which this was. On the first part of my drive, the road did not climb and my tires still had unfrozen pavement to grip. It took me one hour to drive 5 miles, which translates to - ummm - 5 miles an hour - right.
Then I turned left onto South Boulder Road, a steady incline to a steep pitch and at the top of the hill, a dip down to my neighborhood. I may as well have been attempting to drive up the first pitch of the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at the Santa Cruz boardwalk - just imagine the snow.
Hyperbole, you say? Fie! I say.
By the time I got through the intersection onto S. Boulder Road, the slush was collecting and the temperatures were dropping, the traffic was literally - and sometimes dentingly - bumper to bumper - and for the next 2 (count 'em) 2 hours, I was fiercely determined not to slide into oncoming traffic or the surrounding cars heading up the road with me or the snow-covered cars a-slew on the shoulder or stuck in the ditch. My tires spun and all but smoked; the rear of my Honda fish-tailed every time I wag-wag-wagged a few inches between stopping. My speedometer never got off the zero marker.
There's a lot of talk these days about being "in the moment," and by the time I got home Tuesday night, bloodied but unbowed, I knew in my tense body exactly what that means: no music, no phone, no wandering thoughts; no sipping water, searching for a mint, blowing my nose. No nothing but my hands on the steering wheel and an eerie awareness of the Chevy in front of me, the SUV in my rearview, and the hunkering shapes of cars on my left, ahead of me and then behind me and then ahead of me again. I could feel no gain forward, even as I was certain I wasn't going backward; I didn't know snow as falling, only as result: poor visibility, white patches on road that could give my tires something to grip if I fishtailed just right.
I held this intense "moment" of concentration until I bullied my way into the snow-filled alley behind my condo and gunned the car into the garage, stopping short of hitting the washer and dryer. And then I started swearing. And then I marched into my house and yelled all the cuss words I knew until I had shaken the tension out of my body. A friend said I must have felt scared. Hell yes! But mostly I felt powerful, I felt determined, I felt like the Green Hulk not taking any crap off of anyone. I got my front-wheel-drive Honda Civic up a roller coaster of an icy-slush covered hill - in the dark - in commuter traffic - without a dent or a ding or a - wait, I really should check the tires because I swear to you they were smoking.
It never occurred to me before I left Boulder to, say, get a motel in town. It never occurred to me that I couldn't get home (and once committed to S. Boulder Road, I really had no choice but to keep moving - and stopping - and moving again). And really, it wasn't like I was going to die on that road. We weren't going fast enough to hurt each other. The worst that could have happened was that I'd get stuck on the side of the road and then - well, I don't know. Use my cell phone to order up a helicopter? Hike up the hill? Freeze to death maybe, but probably not.
Times like these I sometimes get out of my own way and accept that I am completely responsible for creating my life. And that's what feels so powerful, I think: To make choices and follow through and hold down the cursing until I have enough of a break in my concentration to do it right. By the time I had poured myself a finger of Scotch and was collapsed on the sofa, I could see that drive home as just a 3-hour drive home. I did what I needed to do, that's all. I faced into "what is," and "what is" didn't kill me or diminish me or wound me. I think I probably swaggered to bed, carrying that power with me: I am woman, hear me roar.
In the middle of the night, I fell out of bed.