Boston in January


wickedbigstormLate January — This is the time of year that winter always starts to feel too much for me. I thought I was making it through pretty unscathed this year: We’d had almost no snow so far here in Boston, which meant no shoveling, no scrabbling for precious, hard-dug-out parking spaces, no arguing with neighbors about the proper way to pile up the snow. But all that changed — and changed dramatically — this week with what one meteorologist said was the sixth biggest snowstorm in Boston in recorded history. Before it even came it caused tension in my house over an unregistered car that our subletter had been storing for months, without permission, in the driveway. Our landlords, my housemate, and the downstairs tenants who share the driveway all wanted it moved and the snowstorm brought the issue to a head. I felt that if it wasn’t moved before the snowstorm it was going to be stuck there till March or April. The subletter couldn’t find the title and was apologetic but refused to move it before he got it registered. I pushed the issue more than I would have if it weren’t for the coming storm, and emotions were high all around.

I shared with my writer’s group that it had been a hard day, and one of them said, “If a tough life is a good story, then maybe… a tough day is a good blog post?” I replied, “Yeah, it may be a good blog post some day. Right now if I wrote about it it would be too much Why I Am Right And The Other Guy Is An Idiot. I *am* and he *is* šŸ˜‰ but I’ve got to wait till I get to a deeper truth than that.

Then the storm came and things just kept getting worse. We had more disagreements with our subletter over how to shovel, because there is just so little room to put all that snow. Our neighbor once again expressed disapproval about how we were shoveling. Another neighbor’s van took up one and a half parking spaces, so I couldn’t use the spot I’d dug out. And I heard from my mom that she’d fell and hurt herself, and was taking longer than expected to recover. Now it is snowing again, and more coming on Monday. We haven’t come to a consensus with our subletter about the shoveling, and the snow piles keep getting higher. I came up to my parents’ to help them out and take my mom to her chiropractor’s appointment but we had to cancel the appointment because the roads are so bad. I re-injured my knee — not in the snow, but still. And the headlight on my car went out.

It just keeps piling up, literally and figuratively. Roads are narrower, driving anywhere takes twice as long, and parking is next to impossible, even if you have put a chair in the street to save your spot. People are just tense. This is a hard time of year.

So what is the deeper truth in all of this? I’m not sure, but I think a couple of things are true. The first, I think, is the same lesson I keep coming back to: Conflict is just part of the human condition. People are going to disagree and get frustrated at each other no matter what. There is no perfect amount of action or inaction, passivity or assertion, speaking or keeping quiet that can avoid this. There is no perfect thing to do or say that will avert all conflict. I question whether I should have pushed our subletter so much, but at the same time I feel like I had genuine concerns that it was okay for me to express. In any case, it’s time to let it go and move on. The endless post-game , play by play analysis is too exhausting.

And, second, I think that none of us should be judged by how we behave in New England in late January. We are worn out and weary and not at our best. So I will take a deep breath and forgive myself, and then try to extend that grace to others. And I will try to find things to laugh at. Like this:

dunkin donuts boston

If Dunkin’ Donuts is closing, you know it’s serious.



5 comments on “Boston in January

  1. lizamryan says:



  2. Meredith W. says:

    I feel your pain, even though our snow doesn’t get that bad. It’s the grayness of winter that drags me down further and further. Adding that much snow + subletter insanity to it would have me under the bed already. I hope you will be able to continue breathing deeply and re-reading this as often as necessary.

    And a car using space for months without permission and no registration sounds like a call to a towing company or the police, but I’m sure you’ll do that when you’re ready. šŸ™‚


  3. taracope says:

    Definitely a tough time of year. I function much better with sunshine and have to stay really intentional about keeping my joy this time of year. I’m trying to accept that I’m a little more “sensitive” to things like the weather than some others seem to be, and that it’s okay.

    Speaking of sensitivity I’m so thankful for a previous blog of yours that helped me last weekend with a situation in which I felt sort of exposed for feeling overly sensitive. (Your blog that went viral on Momastery, where you talked about feeling conflicts and events were always your fault, always something that could have been done differently, or handled more perfectly.) A woman in a parking lot yelled at me for leaving my car door open for too long (I didn’t see her in her vehicle) while I put groceries in my car. She was so angry and yelled so much that I was scared she might get out and try to physically attack me or something! After she sped off, I was so shaken up and hurt that I started crying. I was so mad at myself for having hurt feelings! It made me think of your blog and helped me to realize that this was a time where I was feeling angry at myself, blaming myself, and over-analyzing what I should have said or done differently. Just seeing it from an outside perspective helped me to calm down a bit. I was not able to say I was sorry enough to calm her down – but she has free will and I have no right to force her to feel any certain way. Also, it was not personal – it was her personal pain that came spewing out of her mouth – probably a deeper pain that was inside of her, maybe even something difficult that she was going through that day – and I said a prayer for her. Instead of beating myself up, over-analyzing, I just forced myself to say a prayer for her. I also did as you did and tried to embrace the little girl inside of me – she is sometimes a sensitive little girl, but I love her because she is sensitive, even if she spills some pretty silly tears from time to time…

    Sorry for the long comment! I was thinking about blogging about that experience, it just feels good to sort it out and try to pull some lessons from it. That blog was very timely, as is this one. Sometimes, it feels refreshing not to put a positive, deep spin on a situation and to just say, “this is a hard time of year.”


    • Tara, thanks for coming by, and for your thoughtful comment! Yes, I totally would have cried, too, being yelled at in a parking lot. Good for you for realizing that it was her issue, not yours, and for taking care of your fierce, sensitive little girl.

      I love your post about your father — I’ll comment over there as well.


  4. […] true that I feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the winter and all it entails (see my last post, Boston in January), I want to be aware of that inner dialogue and take control of it. That *is* how I feel, but […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s