Musings on a Winter Afternoon

In my early twenties, I drove in amazingly beautiful and equally dangerous weather.
The first time, on a bright afternoon, snow flew in swirling masses toward the windshield. I could only see a a few feet beyond the hood. I was in a sideways funnel, easing down the highway at 20mph, listening to two feet of snow crunch beneath radials I never checked for tread or air.
The second time, in the middle of the night, I drove fifty miles through a torrential downpour that caused tall waves to completely block my view of two different cars that seemed to be aiming for my little Ford Escort. I never knew if I was seeing my headlights reflected in the water wall or real life cars coming my way, only to vanish behind that majestic liquid barrier at the last second. Each time the water receded, the other cars had disappeared.
Through both the winter storm and summer flood (by morning, a good portion of the area I drove through was under water, buildings included), I was dazzled by nature’s grand performance, too young and uninformed to worry. I knew there was risk, but I didn’t dwell there. I smiled into the feeling of being enveloped in a snowy whirl dancing against gray sky. I marveled that I could experience mini tidal waves on I-90 at 1am, an almost lone traveler of the mystic moonlit morning.
If I had known what I was getting into, I surely would have stayed put. I’m not down on the benefits of knowing severe weather is imminent and taking necessary precautions like stocking up on provisions or not going on spontaneous road trips to see people who aren’t expecting you but know you roll like that and love these irregular surprises (yes, that’s why I drove through a blizzard and I did get to visit), but I dearly miss being amazed rather than prepared and finding sheer and undiluted delight in beautiful though potentially dangerous experiences.
These days, I breathe through the edges of panic staying just calm enough to perserve rational thought and reaction when caught in hazardous driving conditions, no matter how beautiful. Thanks to yahoo and company, I’m too aware of other people’s stories and the potential for disaster. I’m also responsible for protecting a couple small people who count on me to keep them safe. I’m such a mother bear.
Okay, make this giant mental leap with me. This is a blog after all and not a place to make sense every time.
I begin to wonder if our connectedness to news and each other distracts today’s young people from fully experiencing similar situations, as well as day to day life, and reduces their opportunities to have encounters with themselves.
I vacillate between being envious at how easy staying in touch with childhood friends will be for this generation of newly emerging adults and their juniors, on the one hand, but then feel a twinge of sorrow that they will miss a kind of solitary exposure to wonder we had to deal with like it or not. I do not wish to give up being able to transmit an image of my latest baking experiment to 410 friends and chit chat about the joys of finally nailing a recipe for gluten free whatever (this sahm welcomes adult conversation), but I have an early foundation of life without the option of constant connection.
Countless times, I was held captive by the confines of a quiet aloneness that couldn’t be remedied by logging on. There was no such thing in my world. I know I’ve always had a land line, but what of three in the morning or in a crowd of strangers away from home. I couldn’t entertain myself by texting pictures of the wares on headless mannequins in Macy’s store front as I wandered by, blandly thinking I might like to wear a similar outfit to school next day, knowing my message would soon be received and responded to.
Instead I was alone in the field of my mind, one foot in front of the other from point A to point B. Books, paper, pen, markers, a walkman. These were my tools. I could dance, create or feel sorry for my lonesome self. Once I settled down to the work of listening, translating my inner world into words, designs and colors, I experienced a kind of contentment.
I didn’t wish to be there all the time and sought out friends regularly, but how often were any of us unaware of who might be at our cafe table on a given night. Without the habit of cell phone updates informing who’s where, why and how, I believe we had more opportunity for becoming comfortable in our own skin, come what may.
Ah, I’m reaching the underlying second thought now. I am grateful for home internet, facebook, my cell phone, email, Open Salon (more than I can express), feeling the world contract into a nation, but I miss a certain element of surprise in everyday life that comes from not knowing quite so much, from being thrust into life, able to only share observations with my own thoughts. I can keep the cell phone in my pocket or laptop in its case, but I’m making a choice, and not simply existing with only the experience itself, no options.
I’m not na

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