It's snowing. Not like flurrying, that us Portlanders pass off as snow and make a big deal about. Real, live snow storm. Four inches was the last report I heard. Which to people used to snow sounds like nothing but for us, who freak out when there's just a light dusting this is a big fucking deal.
Personally, I've never seen anything like it. I didn't even see snow fall for the first time until I was eighteen. You know, California doesn't do the whole snow thing. If we wanted snow we had to drive three hours to see it and then it was already fallen and hard. I didn't care for it much.
Snow falling is still new to me. So, four inches in unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it in my life and I keep making excuses to go outside and see it. I've built snowmen in my front and back patios. I've bought winter boots and scarves and hats from Walmart. I've made snow angels. And work has called me telling me not to come in because of the storm. I've baked more cookies in the last two days than I have in months. I've made soup and cooked fish steaks and twice baked potatoes. For this first time I'm running my heat. Because you know, I have the option to just turn up my thermostat. Sure, I pay for it later but I have the option.
And while this is all fun and games for me I know it's not for everybody. While I was on the back patio this afternoon watching the snow fall my new roommate came out. I rather dislike her and avoid her at all costs but with being snowed in I'm starved for human contact so I conversed with her. As always a mistake.
Her comment, “I wonder what the homeless people are doing right now.”
Of course, she doesn't know. But even so I wanted to punch her or knock her over. They're freezing. That's what they're doing. I don't have to wonder I know. If this storm had been last year I could have easily died of hypothermia. I know they've probably opened up extra shelters but I also know there is no way the city has provided a bed for everyone who needs one tonight.
Have people already died from the storm? Will everyone make it through the night? We'll never know because those that don't make it in the snow won't be reported. No one will care. And here I am safe and snug in my warm house while there are people sleeping in the snow.
I am ashamed. I know and understand the concept of survivor's guilt and imagine that is what I'm experiencing but I honestly have been tossing and turning unable to sleep because I know there are kids on the street, looking for shelter in doorways and under bridges. It's not fair that they should struggle in the cold and I'm here. If this storm would have been a year sooner it'd be me out there.
Crazy thoughts have crossed my mind like letting strangers stay in my house to keep warm or going to sleep outside myself. But I don't have the means to make my home a shelter and sleeping outside myself would do nothing to help. I think instead I will collect up my extra blankets (I have an overflowing closet full of blankets I kept for such an occasion) and take them downtown tomorrow and see where there is a need for them.
I ache for the children who are cold tonight and for my inability to do anything for any of them.And I hate that their struggle is coming at my delight to play in the snow.