Snow, ice, and texts

Here in Birmingham, we’ve finally thawed.

On Tuesday, I was preparing to teach my class and glanced outside to see snow coming down. It was beautiful and certainly nothing to fret over up north, but here in Alabama, it spelled trouble. By 11:30, schools and businesses were closing. By noon, roads were shutting down.

An eventful night ensued.

Bruce slept in his office, perching his head on large post-its. (Only an English professor would come up with that solution!)

Celia spent the night at her school, where teachers stayed behind (some by choice, many by necessity) to chaperone, entertain the kids with music, movies, and games, and make sure every one of them had a place to lay his/her head and something to eat.

Helena made it our neighbor’s house, where she spent two days playing with Addie in the snow, staying up late telling stories, and having an all-around good time.

And I headed towards home, intent on being there for Helena and whomever else might make it, only to find myself stranded in my car by 9:30 p.m. and gradually losing the feeling in my toes. Fortunately, a local church opened its doors, so I was able to find a bit of warmth and rest on a church pew.

By late Wednesday afternoon, we were all reunited and it’s never felt so good to be home.

Throughout the unexpected storm of 2014, as the news media are calling our encounter with wintry weather, we all had to conserve: energy, food and water, and battery life on our phones. I found myself looking forward to those moments every couple of hours when I turned on my phone and saw a text from Bruce, Celia or Helena. Even though we all felt a bit lost being separated from one another and not knowing quite when we’d all make it home, we remained connected.

“Mommy, I’m having so much fun!” Helena wrote. “Are you safe at the church? What are you having to eat?”

“We’re playing Twister and I made a new friend,” Celia texted me. By morning, her messages took a turn: “I’m tired and haven’t brushed my teeth or washed my face. When are you coming to pick me up?”

And Bruce: “UAB’s offering free food in the Dining Commons to all stranded faculty and students. It’s not half bad!”

Tempting as it is to skim over the numerous day-to-day messages that transpire–sitting in carpool, waiting to meet up at the mall, or trying to touch base on what’s for dinner–there are times like this week when texting means something much more important.

Those messages are happy reminders of what binds us together.

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