Friday, March 7, 2008

Weather that touches me.


"I can't bear weather that touches me," says Isabelle, one of the protagonists of Gilbert Adair's 2004 novel The Dreamers.

Amen, sister.

Big weather has arrived in Cincinnati today: a few inches of snow on the ground already, with the promise of upwards of ten by midday tomorrow. I've long hated precipitation of all sorts -- weather that touches me. I know there are people who find walks in the rain romantic; I think only of wet hair and fogged eyeglasses. I try to trace my hatred of snow, rain, sleet, and ice, and think of my car crash of fifteen years ago, when an 18-wheeler slid on the icy surface of Fort Washington Way and bashed in the side of my little red Ford Escort. He didn't stop, and as I skidded to a halt against the median, I watched his tail-lights recede as he raced toward I-75 and felt a helplessness I'd never experienced. One of my colleagues at Procter and Gamble saw the accident, followed the truck, took down his license plate number. Months of phone calls with police and insurance adjustors followed. I often think I could have gotten rich from a lawsuit, had I been so inclined, but in those days I was not. What I remember most is the cop who said, smiling, that had I been going any faster the impact would have flipped my car over the median into oncoming traffic. My body remembers this too: when I get behind the wheel in snow and ice, my arms and shoulders tense, my stomach sinks. Best to stay in, as today. Oddly, my first memory, I think, is of snow: my mother is carrying me out the front door of our house in Georgia, towards the car in the driveway. Snow -- rare for Atlanta -- is falling, and just beginning to stick to the grass.

One of my favorite horror movies is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. I've seen it countless times, and it still terrifies me, not because of the creepiness of the Overlook Hotel, or Jack Nicholson's craziness, or Shelley Duvall's pop-eyed stare, or Danny Lloyd talking to his finger. It's the snow, piling up outside the hotel, sealing them in. I understand that claustrophobia, that itching and twitching, that need to feel as though one could get up and leave if one wanted to.

But today I find the snow strangely comforting. Of course, one of the joys of academia is that colleges, unlike other businesses, actually close in the event of inclement weather. I remember one of the last times Cincinnati received a snowfall like today's, in 1996 or 1997, I suppose. It drifted down my street in such a way that one whole side of my car was obscured. I was chewed out by my hateful manager at Fidelity Investments -- a real battleaxe, she was -- for not making it from Hyde Park to Blue Ash in fifteen inches of snow, while she had driven from Dayton to Cincinnati with virtually no problem. This was not a woman who appreciated psychological weakness: when I tried to tell her about my car crash, she told me to "get a grip."

It's still falling as I write. I've spent considerable time today watching it, safely, from this side of the glass. Perhaps that's the reason I decided to begin this blog today. For there is something in the looking out that enables the looking in.

7 comments:

Noah Soudrette said...

Drew, you could charm the ladies with this stuff if you were so inclined. I'm really looking forward to reading this blog on a regular basis. Good point about the snow in The Shining.

Rich Corney said...

Drew, good stuff, loved your last comment, "For there is something in the looking out that enables the looking in", very poetic. Being in a safe positon allows us to examine things that we are vunerable to caused by experiences in our past.

Paul A. Rodgers said...

I'm jealous. By starting your blog off with actual writing, you've pretty much prevented it from being doomed to failure, unlike my many false starts.

Great stuff.

Valerio said...

Ciao, D!

I'm violently glad you started this new blog -- and with such a remarkable post!

Your e-mail came through two minutes ago and I think I'll answer it here.

You know, I'm looking out of a window, too... it's my bedroom window.
I can't see much of what's outside -- it's 1 am.
Julee Cruise is singing "Mysteries Of Love" in my ears... and, as I told you, the only thing I can think of is: "I want to turn 40. Tomorrow."
So... I'm fine. I'm just fed up with uncertainty.

However, reading your blog helps a bit and knowing you're there helps a lot.

Keep on posting, please!

Noah Soudrette said...

I delight in Valerio's new found obsession with all things Peaks, including Julee Cruise. We fanboys are better at converting people than Catholics ever were!

Anonymous said...

I was somewhat skeptical when I heard you started ANOTHER blog, as several people I know, myself included, have trouble keeping up with several. But I see you actually have several posts…impressive…
I’ve only had one car accident and it occurred when I was just sixteen years old. Some asshole decided to pass four cars, (three behind me and myself) in town, in a no passing zone, right as I was making a left hand turn with my girlfriend at the time in the passenger seat. The car spun around and ended up, literally, a foot from a huge tree. My head hit the windshield, my arm filled with glass, my first car destroyed, and my parents insurance went up. I went without a car for sometime, followed by used, crappy car after used, crappy car (I learned all about what insurance companies will really fork out when you need to file a claim) and to this day, I glance behind me before I make a left hand turn.
I love the snow, but hate driving in it, and hate shoveling it even more.
Chuckwilson

Joe Rouse said...

Hello, Drew. I have been meaning to post to your wonderful blog since early March, and here it is, mid-May. You have made (which is no surprise to me and others) some beautiful and touching observations thus far, and I am grateful to be "taught" by you from afar.
The snow we received at the time of this initial posting touched me in a different way than it did you. I have always been exhilarated by snowfall and I spent a lot of time trudging through the March storm. I suppose this adventuresome affair that I have with winter weather stems from my childhood, when my father, on the way home from church, of all places, pulled into an abandoned parking lot covered with snow (it was January of '78) in his brown Pontiac Firebird. Before we could ask him what he was doing, he began a series of "donuts," bringing the car into a continual circular skid while keeping the steering wheel turned and a semi-heavy foot on the gas. We (my three sisters and I) erupted with cheers and laughter, while my mother clung to the dashboard from the passenger seat, white-knuckled and supressing a smile while at the same time trying to shoot him a stern look. So, unlike you, I have enjoyed precipitation of all kinds ever since. I suppose the experience wasn't traumatic. Anyway, I thought I'd give another perspective a fleeting view...