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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Getting lost in the snow

Published: February 14, 2013
Section: Opinions

During the weekend, I was able enjoy my first true snowstorm at Brandeis University in four years of residing on campus. I do not mean to confuse you. I am not referring to the scattered flurries or glorified dustings we have gotten in previous years. No, I am talking about the all-out blizzard that, as a weather-hardened New Englander, I have come to expect during my winters. I label last year, which lacked even a one-foot snowstorm, an abysmally boring aberration in the New England weather pattern. It was nice to see another blizzard and even nicer to see it finally at Brandeis (we had had large snowstorms in the past four years but never when I was at Brandeis).

My favorite part of a snowstorm is always the sense of endless possibility it evokes within me. This is probably due to memories of sledding and snow days in my youth—a sort of inlaid instinct within my persona at this point. Like a family gathering at Thanksgiving, nothing brings back the warm nostalgic malaise of childhood like a strong snowstorm. All the stresses of my life found themselves obscured, much like the outside world. As the world got lost in the snow, my cares went along with it.

At the height of the storm, a few of my more courageous friends and my own winter-hardened self went sledding. The entire world was covered in a panoply of swirling white. When it was windy, one could barely see more than a foot in front of one’s face. Squinting into the distance proved entirely useless, as one could not face the wind without feeling the thousand stinging pains of a freezing, heavy, windblown snow. After an hour of fighting against the storm, even I was ready for some warm clothes and hot chocolate.

The day after the storm, I took a walk outside to see our brave new winter-blasted world. A few glimpses of the world outside showed me that we had indeed gotten two feet of snow for once. I meandered my way through a shell-shocked world (I was able to walk down the middle of South Street due to the driving ban) and slowly made my way toward my car in J lot. As I headed to where I thought my car would be, I heard the sound of laughter. There, about two feet from the pile of snow that was my car, a girl had apparently seen it in all of its snowy glory and could not repress a derisive chortle. As I approached the car, even I could not keep from laughing. The car was so utterly covered that I could not make out most of its features and actually ended up checking the license plate to double check it was mine.

After spending a few futile minutes trying to clean off my car, I headed over to the library to see how the rest of the campus was doing. By the library, I discovered a long line of people waiting to sled down the library hill. Overall, the entire campus seemed to have a sort of carnival atmosphere about it, although people’s reactions to the storm varied. There were two types of reactions to the storm and they generally varied based on geographical origin. The first was what I call the northern reaction. This consisted of people exclaiming excitedly about the snow and oftentimes engaging in snowball fights or playing in the snow. The second reaction was generally one that ranged from bemused stupefaction to downright frustration, and seemed to largely confine itself to those from more southern latitudes who had never seen so much snow before. Having friends from both areas, I sympathized with those frustrated by the storm but ultimately identified with those celebrating it.

I love snow and will continue to derive satisfaction from it, despite the fact that it always seems to congregate in irrationally large piles on top of my car. I eventually got to the library, only to find that it was mostly closed. Somewhat disappointed, I set out for the treacherous path back down the hill toward my suite in Ridgewood.

As I was walking back toward the residence, I got a call from my parents. They had hunkered down in our home near Providence but their power had been knocked out, and the street had yet to be plowed. This apparently had not stopped my mother from attempting to visit the neighbors for some coffee and breakfast (they apparently had a generator). Unfortunately, her car got stuck, and a neighborhood-wide rescue operation involving several plows had to take place before she could get her coffee. Ultimately, mom reported to me, it was definitely worth it. I reflected upon the idea that perhaps my friends who thought New Englanders were crazy might have a point.

I was concerned about my parents, however, as the heat also went with the power. My parents were not worried though—they had been through far worse in past days. That is another strange aspect of New Englanders. A storm is never bad unless it is worse than the worst storm of all time (in this case, usually the Blizzard of 1978). If it does not measure up to that, it is just another petty obstacle to get through, regardless of how destructive the storm actually is. Thus, my parents merely reassured me that they would be fine and told me to take care of myself.

I returned to my suite and attempted to do work for a little while but eventually ended up playing in the snow with friends. During that time, I managed to somehow dig out my car, along with my friend’s car, using only our boots and a small broom that we had found nearby. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that this situation was ludicrous but my New England upbringing told me it all made sense. So ended my experience with the Blizzard of 2013, Nemo, or whatever else they are calling it these days. I am truly grateful to have had this experience before I graduate and I hope to experience it at least once more in the coming months.