Seven feet of invisible snow in New England

The snow was so high and stiffly packed that winter; it was impossible to trudge home from the train without collecting snowflake souvenirs in my boots every night. It was my first full year of living in Boston and the winter was kicking my tail. The sun was still setting at some obscenely early hour, and I was a desk jockey pulling long hours for little pay, so I basically never saw the sun or my boyfriend or my friends. Color me depressed.

I remember looking up and seeing a sign posted on a telephone pole that someone had Sharpied in black:

I’LL PAY YOU $10 TO DIG OUT MY CAR

I remember thinking how much would be reasonable to charge for someone to dig me out of my McJob life, to be perfectly dramatic.

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My Boston comrades are still digging out of seven feet of snow. As is their trolley/subway system. New Englanders are bandying about phrases like “ice dam” which should only ever refer to a slip-n’-slide for penguins in the Arctic Circle. Their cabin fevers are spiking to epic highs. I mean–have you SEEN it up there? The whole situation is terribly unfair.

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We agree, you and I, don’t we? That the Nor-easters that keep dumping more snow on an already bewildered geography really smack of injustice and horror? We see the pictures of (or we experience firsthand) the shoveling and the roof-clearing and the endless headaches of commuting and we all are very much of one accord: That’s painful stuff. Nobody deserves that. I’m really sorry.

I’m guessing that neighborliness increases in these times, too. There’s a sort of camaraderie to picking up the shovels and knowing we’re all in this Us v. Winter thing together.

But we all know that eventually winter ends. The snow melts. The swan boats emerge in the Public Gardens once more. The solution to the winter problem is the reliability of the earth orbiting as it should around the sun.

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I have to remind myself that the private pains people carry are very much like the seven feet of snow, only invisible. I have friends dealing with diabetes, cancer, the grief of losing a parent. I have students who are hungry, lonely, hyper-anxious. My husband treats clients whose secrets could ruin lives–are ruining lives. They are buried under heavy blankets of snow. The meteorologists can’t forecast what’s ahead. They are not sure when this winter will end.

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I’ve lived through my share of winters, literal and figurative, and the invisible winters are always harder to weather.  Friends, if you need someone to help you dig out, I hope someone you trust can be there. If you call me, I’ll probably send you links to cat videos on Youtube, but at least you’ll know you are loved and you can keep the $10.

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Way recommending: “Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?”

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I am an unlikely audience member for Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?: And Other Questions Single Girls Ask and for this reason, I read it with great relish. What I hadn’t anticipated is how much I would enjoy it and, moreover, how much I would have needed it!

This book is effectively an encouragement for Christian women who are single and age 30+. These women are single not due to widowhood or separation/divorce but because they are still seeking a life’s partner. Still seeking–that’s the error in the perception as the book readily points out. Author Cindy Johnson lays bare what a raw deal single women, especially those in the Church, are given. Ever being postured as not quite whole, their lives not fully realized because they are not yet paired off with someone–we have done a terrible job of ministering to singles and focusing for way too long on their relationship status. The chapter that spoke most into my heart was “Call It What It Is: Why Being Single is Lame” where Johnson offers a “what not to say” to one’s single friends. I have been the offender in almost every one of the points offered. Points. Well. Taken!

The book is not long–150 pages and it is organized in a brilliant way that reads easily, like a memoir. Johnson pairs her own anecdotes as well as letters from her single friends, both male and female, who share their stories in dating and seasons of singledom. Johnson discusses so many beautiful aspects of the single life and how rich it is, but she also shares her journey through relationships that she had expected to turn out otherwise. Her voice is delightful, not just in contrast to the voice one might expect from a non-fiction book on dating and the single life. Johnson’s tone is consistently sincere and funny and she pulls no punches. This book is a gift and I believe that it would be a great gift for a friend, an addition to a pastor’s bookshelf, and would be a great women’s book club pick.

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*Johnson and I have gotten acquainted through our mutual literary agent. I received a free copy of this book in advance with no expectation of review or endorsement.

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4 pairs of Converse high-tops

We bought four pairs. You came into the world with four pairs of Converse hightop shoes. Daddy bought unisex colors: two sets of aqua (unisex? debatable) and two sets of black, because we didn’t know if you were a boy or girl. But we were prepared with hightops, sizes 3, 5, 7, 9.

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We didn’t know how this would work, you joining us, no other family member for 1000 miles, Mama in grad school, Daddy working 3 jobs. When the nurses handed you to me, I couldn’t tell if it was just the anesthesia making me shiver or if the great and profound weight of this new life in my care was making me quake. I was holding 8 lb. 1 oz. of beautiful you but the pull of gravity at that moment was much greater. Like a Mac truck had backed into my hospital bed and dropped a heap-ton of work and sleeplessness into my lap. Somehow–and I can’t explain it because I think you have to experience it firsthand–a feeling washed over me that you were the only one thing in my life that I couldn’t get out of, and yet we were going to be ok, you and I and Daddy, and that we were going to be so, so happy together.

I mean, for starters, at least we had shoes.

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The first time I saw your Daddy walking up the hill of Schultz lawn, he was wearing Converse. They were red Chucks, the only appropriate choice for the man who captured my young heart.

Whenever we would go to visit your grandparents in Ann Arbor, we would visit Sam’s to buy ourselves a new pair of Cons.

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It’s terribly naive to think that we should make this bulk investment in Converse for a girl who would not walk for another 13 months, but I suppose the shoes symbolize our naivete and our induction of you into our Converse club.

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You put the last pair on today, the bookends on this shoe collection, and you complained that they were pinching your toes. It felt unfair, that you had outgrown these shoes that had once seemed so impossibly big without our even noticing it.

This, too, is a symbol of the invisible ache that your own growth causes the people who love you most in this world, and also of the wonderful shoes you have yet to fill that you do not yet own, in sizes we cannot yet fathom.

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