A ministerial colleague of mine — actually the person who brokers many of what we call “transitions” in our liberal religious denomination — posted on Facebook last week that he wished he could have a snow day. I was surprised that he hadn’t had one, given the extraordinarily blustery weather they seem to be having in his part of the country this winter.
Perhaps what he was saying was that even if there were weeks when our headquarters closed and staff told to stay home, he still was putting in a regular work day: done so easily with the Internet/Wi-Fi/ perpetual plug in that evolving technology relentlessly provides us.
That same day, I woke up with the beginnings of a head cold, rarer these years than during my childhood, when it seemed I had no sooner stopped blowing out green mucus (not taken as seriously by our parents) then I started over with a scratchy throat and doldrums. When I was nine years old, and even more so when I was in those perpetually cranky preteen years, I looked for any opportunity to be sick enough to stay home: the salty canned chicken noodle soup and saltines; the frozen orange juice; the piles of Kleenex; the grainy daytime television. A day away from the rows of right-handed student desks, the wall clocks, the period changing buzzers and the mean girls was a good day. No work done at all, except reading a Veronica and Archie comic or Little House on the Prairie for the fifth time. Or when I was somewhat older, checking out Days of our Lives and the forgettable Mike Douglas Show.
After a few days, being sick was boring and I missed the routine, as stultifying as it was.
Snow days were rare. When we lived just outside Washington D.C., there were the occasional school shut downs: the few inches of snow turning rapidly to filthy slush. Just like here in Atlanta, where we too recently created truly embarrassing national news with a two-inch “Snow Jam” that caused a gridlock unprecedented here — or perhaps anywhere. And today we are under a severe winter weather watch again (as messages on my landline and cellphone keep warning) for an ice storm of colossal proportions, with school children home again for the seventh or eighth day since the first of the year. The first time around, when the snow first came down and stuck to the frozen clay ground, they took off to the only nearby hill with garbage can lids. After a few hours, the novelty had worn off and they were cold, retreating to their separate houses and iPads.
My 27-year-old son called from his new home in Brooklyn, walking his Southern-born dog in two feet of snow with more coming. He instructed me in all the ways that I might keep working in the midst of this impending new Snowcopolyse: scrupulously charging up our phones, laptops, and tablets; cranking the heat way up before the inevitable power loss; finding and setting out the candles and flashlights. You will be fine, he assured me. I would not skip a beat.
Even for this now lightly employed — totally freelance and mostly self-scheduled Boomer, the goal is to keep plugging away at all costs. Because as memoirist and novelist Dani Shapiro observes: “The hours would take no shape unless I shaped them.” Better to recreate the hall bells and periods than days, even a day without beginning or end. When every day has the potential to be a sick day or snow day.