[WARNING: This is a long one. Sorry.]
Monday, January 27 // The Night Before
“I bet you next month’s electric bill it’s not going to snow.”
These are actual words that came out of my roommate’s mouth. I had been debating on whether to take my car into the shop to get my blinker fixed the next day, and mentioned that I might have to leave work even earlier because of the potential snow. The forecast called for a dusting of snow starting around 1:00 PM, and I wasn’t keen on driving in even a little bit of it. But my roommate didn’t believe we’d be getting any.
And it’s true that many forecasts were saying the snow would miss Jefferson County all together. They predicted we would be in a small “no-snow” pocket and that the big stuff would hit the southern half the state. So my roommate’s claims weren’t unfounded. Hence the bet.
I didn’t take the bet, instead choosing to bury myself into my bed and go to sleep, telling myself I’d put up my newly-clean laundry the next afternoon.
Tuesday, January 28 // The Morning Of
I was actually running ahead of schedule as I got ready for work, even after trying on and rejecting the five outfits now strewn across my bed. I threw a tupperware bowl of pasta in my lunchbox, grabbed my hat and gloves, then got in the car to head to Samford.
Before I pulled out of the driveway, I thought, “Hmm, should I pack a quick overnight bag just in case? Or am I just being a worrywart?”
I didn’t pack the bag, and I set off for work.
Tuesday, January 28 // First Snowfall
The flurries started around 9:30.
I gloated to my roommate via text, Instagrammed a photo or two, giddily discussed it with a co-worker, then went back to work, enjoying the tranquil scene outside my window.
About an hour later, I realized that the fluffy white stuff I had been so excited to see had now coated many parts of the ground, and I started to get a bit worried about my drive home. Convinced I was being paranoid, I decided to stay at least until Noon or until they closed campus.
The campus closing came half an hour later, and I booked it to my car, berating myself for not leaving sooner.
Tuesday, January 28 // On the Road?
It took me an hour to get off of campus. With every employee and commuter student attempting to get off campus at the same time, combined with the bumper-to-bumper “I don’t know how to drive in snow” traffic on Lakeshore, all I could do was sit in the line and listen to the Frozen soundtrack while I watched students cross campus with storage container lids and cardboard to use for sledding down the hills at the football field.
They always tell you to appreciate snow days while you’re a student because they aren’t nearly so much fun when you’re an adult. This is now the most accurate piece of advice I’ve ever been given.
But eventually I did get off campus…and straight into the aforementioned gridlock on Lakeshore.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it– I was terrified of trying to drive in a white, icy mess surrounded by what seemed like every other vehicle in the city. I went a little over half a mile down the road in an hour and a half, the entire time alternating between praying for safety and mentally screaming at the woman in the car behind me who kept pulling up way too freakin’ close for comfort. All I wanted was to make it to Target so I could walk up to Megan’s apartment and be safe and, you know, not driving in snow anymore.
Tuesday, January 28 // Parked
Eventually, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was emotionally and mentally overloaded, and I needed to get off the road before I hyperventilated or had a panic attack. I made it to an office building lot, parked, and tried not to cry while on the phone with my dad.
Thankfully, Megan (to whom I am incredibly, incredibly grateful) walked to the parking lot and walked back up to her apartment with me. I was so thankful to be delivered from icy gridlock that I didn’t even care I was in a pencil skirt, tights, and boots with little traction. I was safe.
Tuesday, January 28 // Everyone Else
But not everyone else was. We were glued to social media and our phones for the rest of the day (with a short break to get Step Sing tickets via our good friend Jules), checking up on friends and news reports, trying to make sure everyone was accounted for.
My roommate, who had left her work at the mall the same time I left Samford, was trapped on I-459, where traffic had come to a complete standstill. She would make it home by 7:30 PM. Suz had been making her way back to Birmingham from Pensacola and eventually got stuck on I-65 just south of the city. It was 3:30 AM before she would make it off the Interstate and to a rest shelter in Hoover.
Wednesday, January 29 // The Day After
Suz finally made it home around 8 on Wednesday morning. The final member of our community was safe, and we all collectively basked in that relief.
Later that day, Megan, Suz, and I made the trek down the hill to Target in order to pick up sustenance (and non-work clothes for me). Stranded cars littered the streets, looking like a scene from the zombie apocalypse. We marched (well, waddled) down the hill with a dozen other Snowmageddon refugees, eventually making it to the dry ground of glorious, wonderful Target.
I snatched up some warm clothes, then made my way over to the food aisles. One frozen pizza, one half gallon of milk, two boxes of mac and cheese, a package of Oreos, and a tin of cinnamon rolls found their way into my basket while Megan and I laughed about the fact that the most decimated areas of the store were the bread shelves and the beer coolers (and surprisingly, not the milk).
We thanked the Target employees profusely, then trekked back to the apartment for some pizza and rest. I realized I didn’t have much of a hope of getting home that day due to a very large and very icy hill at the entrance to my neighborhood, so I just accepted my fate of one more stranded night (though are you really stranded when you’re with good friends in a warm apartment?).
Thursday, January 30 // Two Days After
We made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then did whatever we could think of to ward off cabin fever. With Samford closed for a third day and the news it would be closed for a fourth, everyone was a little bit antsy. Suz very graciously taught me to knit (New Year’s Resolution!), so she and I knitted and watched Sherlock while I waited on the temperature to rise to the 40s and hopefully melt the ice on the hill to my neighborhood.
It was actually a pretty nice way to spend the day, in all honesty. I’d do it again, snow-stranded or not.
Thursday, January 30 // Going Home
I got the “passable” seal of approval for my trip home from my roommate (who had to go into work, boo), and so began mentally steeling myself for the trip home. With two days of bright, clear sunshine and at least five hours of above-freezing temperatures, I was hopeful that I wouldn’t have issues on the drive.
And after Megan (gracious and wonderful human being that she is) determinedly scraped the ice from beneath her car’s wheels, she drove me down to my beloved Jeep, and I finally made my trek back to my house.
Thursday, January 30 // Finally
Home has never been so sweet. I was ecstatic to finally slip into my own clothes and collapse into my own bed. I was less ecstatic to remember that my laundry has been sitting in the laundry basket since Monday night waiting to be put up.
The last few days have been an absolute mess, and I’m sure Birmingham will be overreacting to any threat of snow for the next ten years to avoid another catastrophe like this. But it’s been incredible to see how generous, loving, and selfless people have been to those affected by the storm. A silver lining if there ever was one.
And if there’s ever a threat of snow again, I’m packing a bag. And taking that bet with my roommate.