Through Drifting Snow

It is snowing hard. This weather brings to mind three girls for whom — or with whom — I have slogged through waist-deep drifting snow.

When I was in junior high school, I lived in Wisconsin and had a crush on my friend Sheila. She lived just a few blocks away, and I would call her in the evening a few times a week and we’d talk about nothing in particular. In the depths of the notoriously snowy winter of 1977, she came down with measles or something, and was quarantined. On the phone she mentioned a craving for long johns. I found this confusing, because growing up in New Jersey, I only knew long johns as garments. When my mother explained a long john was similar to an eclair, I pulled on my boots and parka and headed for the supermarket.

The supermarket was just across the park, but the park was awash with three to four feet of snow. As I wallowed across the drifts — climb up, roll down, repeat — I rehearsed the scene at Sheila’s door. Her mom would answer, I’d proffer the bakery bag, ‘this is for Sheila’, she’d be all ‘oh you sweet thing, come in, she’ll be so pleased, let me get you some hot cocoa’, Sheila would be all feverish and pathetic and weepy-grateful…

When I finally made it to her door step, wouldn’t you know it? Sheila’s kid sister answered. “Here, this is for Sheila.” I thrust the bag at her and bolted down the driveway. I was almost to the corner when I heard their mom call after me: “Glen, you dear sweet thing!” And there was my friend Sheila beside her, calling in a clear voice “Thank yoooo!” It was a satisfactory outcome.

During the notoriously cold winter of 1981, I dated my friend Lori, who lived just over a mile up Main Street from my house. Boy I liked hanging out with her. I could usually borrow the family Chevette in the evenings, but one night it was unavailable and I really wanted to see her, so I stuck a few records for us to listen to into a paper grocery bag, pulled on my boots and parka, and headed up the road.

I walked alternately in the middle of the busy street, atop of the six-foot plow tailings on the shoulder, and through the 3-foot powder in the ditch. It took hours. We hung out in the basement listening to Ted Nugent, Rush, and ELO records while her older brother puttered in his little workshop under the stairs, deputized by their parents to keep an eye on us.

At nine, I gathered up my records, said my goodbyes and headed home. Lori told me later that a few minutes after I left, they all noticed that they did not hear my car warming in the driveway, and further realized my car had never been in the driveway. “Did you walk that night?” “Well, yes,” I mumbled, pretending to be embarrassed. She hit me. Another satisfactory outcome.

I just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary, twenty years married to my spectacular wife Sara. I have not slogged through drifting snow for her, but I have slogged through drifting snow with her, and I will continue to walk, hike, slog, climb and roll with her, through life and even to the grave. Most satisfactory indeed.

Photo: Glen van Alkemade 2015

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