We got our first dusting of snow in Brooklyn and I was struck by how differently I feel about snow this year. It's actually the first time it's even snowed since we moved up to New York in 2018 - both previous winters were incredibly mild. Typically, when I think about incoming snow, I feel incredibly anxious and helpless; a complete bah-humbug compared to those who rejoice about falling flakes. As with so many self-narratives, I'd always chalked this up to being less joyful than others, more practical (it's wet, cold, messy, and unsafe on the roads) - things inherently wrong with me rather than with my previous experiences with snow.
While walking Rex around the block in the first hour of the snow yesterday, I thought back to when my opinions on snow first turned negative and was pretty surprised by how clear two memories were. The first was when I was in college and working at a small fitness studio in Charlottesville. I was on the schedule to teach a 6am class and there was a massive snowstorm scheduled to start overnight / early morning. The owner of the studio made no proactive announcement about cancelling classes and I was too young and scared to ask, having created a story that she would think I was trying to get out of work / lazy / a drama queen who refused to work in inclement weather. 5am rolled around, I woke up for work, and there was maybe 2 feet already on the ground. No message from my boss. I drove an old Camry at the time and it was NOT made for the snow-covered hills of Charlottesville that morning. Every warning light on my dash was blinking the entire drive and I think I squinted my eyes mostly shut while taking erratic breaths the whole way there. There were TWO out of a booked TWENTY participants in class - both drove to class in massive SUVs. After class, my boss had finally woken up and sent an email cancelling the rest of the day due to the weather.
Here's the thing. I wanted to be acknowledged. I wanted to be thanked. I wanted her to reach out and apologize for her operational oversight while commending me for going above and beyond to show up for the two participants in class. None of those things happened. I was paid my normal, fair wage for teaching a class. I never brought it up to her. And I let the resentment brew. The job didn't end well.
The other memory is another in the same Camry, which I think at this point had 300,000 miles on it. I drove home to Charlottesville from Winchester (where my husband, then boyfriend, was living at the time) trying to beat an incoming snow storm. I didn't beat it. I hit it on Interstate 81, where 18-wheelers drive at least 75 miles per hour on both lanes of the highway. My tires didn't feel safe, my defrost wasn't working properly, and again I was cursing a small gym for which I was working for not proactively cancelling classes before a massive storm. All classes were cancelled by the time I got back so I endangered myself for zero dollars. Again, this was my fault. I didn't speak up, I didn't advocate for myself, I didn't zoom out and look at the big picture. I fell into my perfectionist, people-pleaser tendencies and tried to be the BEST. EMPLOYEE. EVER. No one cared, I didn't get paid more, and I was resentful at all times.
So lots of things are different. I no longer drive so that anxiety is automatically gone. [RIP to the Camry which made it to - I kid you not - 360,000 miles]. I work and work out at home so I really only need to be able to walk Rex and get groceries - both of which I do on foot - when it snows. I like to also think that I would no longer put myself into those situations. I've grown up, gotten better at identifying and asking for what I need, and not tolerating situations that can't provide the stability, structure, and leadership that I crave.
Let it snow.