This is the sixth day of the coldest part of winter in Nashville, and we have no home. Our landlady says it will be any day now that she will make good on her promise to fix the heater that went out a week ago, but each day we are told one more day still. Who can account for an ice storm in the south? Who can predict a city transformed to abandoned cars and wandering zombie hipsters post apocalypticly scattered on every street?
A northerner, dumbasses.
Now we find ourselves huddled under the charitable roof of people who love us while the trees outside bend their tallest branches down in a seeming effort to replant somewhere warmer– like the molten lava we hope is in the center of it all. A particularly malicious limb has already fallen and impaled the back window of one car, and every crack and rattle outside the tightly sealed front door takes us to the window to ensure another vehicle hasn’t succumbed to a similar end. We are pacing longer strides as the days stretch, wild as circus tigers, waiting for our proper moment to turn on the ones who are caring for our misplacement. Here, we are warm, the dog is fed and has friends, we can watch all the Netflix we want, we are fed and have friends… and we just want to go home.
I am the most ungrateful of beggars.
Being tucked away in a haven with enough elbow room for everyone, enough goodwill to go around the city twenty times twice, there is an element I miss more. It’s not a nostalgia for the heydays of sled riding down Great Uncle Paul’s hill, making last second rolls to keep from oncoming traffic in the persistent neighborhoods of Western PA. It’s not for hot chocolate or chicken soup from a packet mom added the right amount of hot water to, sipped from Strawberry Shortcake or Keebler Elf mugs printed with our names. I don’t want to build a snowman or ride my bike around the halls. I want fewer options.
One day, when the city falls into a coma of ice and danger, I want to heed the mayor’s urging to stay off the roads. I want to pace less. I want to not think about what I am missing, how a day of work lost is a bill less paid, how guilty I feel for wanting to spend the day reading. I want to not think about how few these days are. I want to not immediately scatter my brain to think of how best to use the time, and when the brain reconvenes, I realize it is 5 o’clock with my hands still wringing.
It seems I am already making a list for next time this happens, as the trees have not even started their dripping thaw. Who can lay everything down for a day and sit still with the cold on one side of the window and a hot kettle on the other? Who can stop their pacing long enough to remember the ice storm of 2015 as it is happening, instead of as a hopeful hindsight months down the line?
A southerner, you dumbass.