Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the drive

started in Maine with freezing rain and speed limit of 45 on the turnpike.

You could skate on the driveway, paved with a good half inch of ice. When I brought my car out of the garage to pack it with luggage and Christmas presents, rain hit it and froze, making a big car Popsicle. I drove slowly along the street and slammed on the brakes to see. The 4-wheel drive kicked in and I didn't skid. I hit the turnpike.

Blasting heat kept ice from forming on the windshield. Very few cars on the road. I kept it to 45 and watched other numbers: the outside temperature, nicely displayed on the dash, and my expected time of arrival (ETA) on the guided personal system (GPS).  It was 29 degrees and my ETA 4  1/2 hours.

An hour later, an hour south, the temp rose to 32 and I put the pedal to the metal; 65 mph. It started to rain harder. There were more cars on the road. I stopped for coffee. Stopped at a gift store in New Hampshire.

Around Boston the roads were full and we went 65-70 bumper to bumper in pouring rain. I could see the car in front of me, and the next car, but not much else. It was raining hard and cars threw up sheets of water. There were lots of trucks: behemoths of metal that could crush a car like a slap on a gnat.

Sometimes the road would open up a little and someone would sail past me, going 80 or 90. Sometimes cars darted in and around others like a cat on stairs. Sometimes it rained a little less.

The temp rose to 48.

5 1/2 hours of freezing rain, rain, traffic: miles and miles; past Worcester, Boston, and Hartford; my GPS got me to my destination: my aunt's house in Connecticut.  I made it.

My cousins arrived from New York. We nibbled on snacks, admired my aunt's Christmas tree, opened presents, and went out for Thai and sushi. We had avocado and cucumber sushi, appetizers and curry.

Then we hit the road for New York City, my cousins and I, leaving my car in my aunt's driveway.

It was dark and drizzly. A passenger, I gazed at Christmas lights as we sped past big tidy houses. It took us half an hour to creep past an accident. We got onto a parkway: no trucks! We told stories and laughed all the way into the city, 2 hours.

Back home 100,000 are without power from the ice storm. The weather was supposed to turn warm and melt all the ice, but instead the freezing rain continued and it got colder. Now my town in coated in a thick layer of ice. Trees are bent and branches hang low, weighted and sorrowful. Branches crack, break, and drop; trees tip over from the weight. They smash and crash on cars and houses. When they land on power lines they darken neighborhoods. People are cold, lighting candles, trying to keep holiday food from spoiling.

I'm in New York City. I can see hundreds of apartment windows and blue sky above. We're in a nice neighborhood, I saw that last night as we circled the block several times in search of a parking spot. There are shops and restaurants down the block. We're going to stroll down there after breakfast.

It's Christmas Eve day and I'm in New York City with my cousins.