Snow Days

If you live in or around Seattle, you were probably snowed-in yesterday. I will not shock those readers living in Colorado, Minnesota, Buffalo, or Norway with how little snow was required to cancel school and close coffee shops, but suffice it to say Seattleites are cautious. The children are home and staring out the windows at the frozen world, contemplating the gift of free time the winter has given them. How I craved these days when I was a boy. Little pleased me so much as seeing the order of the working world shut down, to have a day unexpectedly emptied of obligation, suspended and unnatural. What I would do with my time was irrelevant. It was enough that the yoke of routine was temporarily lifted.

Unfortunately, it was never long before boredom set in. After the snowball fights, and the forts, and the hot chocolate, and the games of Monopoly, there we would be watching game shows while a frozen and unplayable crust formed on the powder outside our doors. I was an existential lad, and in the dull and dying hours of the day a malaise would creep into my mind. Somehow the promise of the day had gone unfulfilled. In the end, we did more or less what we would always do, only minus the sense of completion that even a day of elementary school can provide.

If the snow was deep enough, it was conceivable school would be canceled for a second day. By nightfall, I might send up empty prayers for just such a miracle, knowing that if it came true I would be hounded by a sense of guilt, as if my sloth had brought this to me. The next morning, the wonderland was on its way to a wasteland, and the house felt stuffy, and I found my brother and sister grating.

There was never talk of a third day. By that second night we might turn off the lights in the living room and light a fire. Having finally given up on snow days, I would fall under the fire’s spell, and within that trance feel something that had been pecking at me for two days but had gone unheard amid the frenzy of snow angels, and the squabbles with my brother, and the hours of television. I would listen until the fire dwindled, and then excuse myself and climb the stairs to my bedroom and begin writing a story.

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