Snow Days

The recent nasty weather has left me thinking about RR and school.  When I was little, I’d have given just about anything for a snow day.  But, I lived then in Chicago where there was never quite enough snow during my short tenure to keep me home.  When we moved to Arizona, well, that was that.  I thought it was cruel that my parents wanted me in school regardless of climate conditions until they pointed out that a) cancelled school usually meant more days in June and that b) I had a responsibility to learn.  Now that I’m a parent, I find I feel very much the same way.  RR has a responsibility to learn and she needs all the days she can get to do it.  Perhaps the frequent snowy winters of late will give Virginia a sterner spine.

I spent this day in January 25 years ago longing for a snow day.  I had been at my new school in Tucson for less than a month and I hated the weird outdoor-hallway layout and the brown earth and, for me, the ridiculously warm winter weather.  My face had started breaking out and I sat in my social studies class leaning hard on one elbow, palm pressed to my chin, pretending like no one could see the swollen mess that had bloomed there that morning.  I was pretending that I was a beautiful girl in a red down jacket home from school for a snow day (like my friends in Chicago most certainly were but, in reality, were probably not) running out to play in the drifts, blonde hair bouncing.  I remember that I was happy the lights were out because it made it easier to pretend I was this lucky girl.

The lights were out because we were watching the live feed of the Challenger take-off.  Years later, I would recognize that morning as my generation’s only JFK moment until it was later eclipsed, of course, by September 11th.  But that morning, I was a laughing girl in a red down jacket throwing flirtatious snowballs until in a split second I was halfway to adulthood.  It occurs to me today that we weren’t watching a tape or anything DVRed.  That my teacher was contending with a national tragedy live and in the moment and that she had a roomful of almost teens on the edge of understanding what had happened who were going to need an immediate response.  I’ll bet she wished it was a snow day, more than anything.

It probably wouldn’t happen that way for RR, not in a culture where reality hitches at different moments for everyone.  Is it live?  Are you paused a few seconds behind?  Are we protecting our children so carefully that we deliberately screen everything in advance, including news events, to protect them?  This morning it’s a snow day in Virginia just like I fervently wished it would be in Arizona 25 years ago.  Even so, this morning, RR is “at school” building a habit of learning.  And this morning, instead of working, I sat at my desk daydreaming about summer and how I will garden in the yard in a straw hat and dirty flowered gloves, blonde hair blowing in the wind.  I am still more beautiful in my daydreams.


One Response

  1. A heartbreakingly beautiful piece. I’ve read it all day and love it more and more every time.

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