Late 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* 😉 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:
If Dunkin’ Donuts is closing, you know it’s serious.