How I Almost Died Last Weekend
And then, from out of nowhere, the snow came. We hadn’t even cleaned up from the party yet when the flakes began collecting on the leaves. Snow this early always makes the best snowmen- mushy heavy, and packable. If the trees were bare we might’ve spent the evening outside throwing it at each other. Or maybe we’d crank the music up, heat up the irons, and start waxing the boards and skis.
Shit, Killington is already open.
Instead, we watched and waited for limbs to begin snapping. In my beloved Pacific Northwest the trees grow tall and straight, saving their limbs for only the uppermost portion of the trunk. They’re like me: tall, lanky, and flexible. Here in New England the trees are more like a short fat man holding his arms out. The leaves had just begun their annual ritual of attracting New Yorkers to come and leave insulating piles of trash everywhere. Instead, they grabbed piles of snow and started bringing the branches down.
When we lost power it came as little surprise. New England blacks out the way cats throw up- it’s more like a hobby than an accident. The roofalanches rumbled the house as the piles of mush lost their purchase on the slate. We anticipated the bass-heavy crunch of limbs severing from trunks and even the sirens that would inevitably ring out everywhere.
When the neighbor’s house caught fire, though, the storm lost its sense of humor. This snow meant business and people’s lives were at stake. I’ve never seen a 4-alarm blaze before and I certainly don’t want to see another. It was four houses away, but we could see the flames over the treetops through our ground-floor windows. We found out later that the house was for sale- totally vacant, thank God.
Thank God. That’s a term I toss about with the ubiquity of LOL and WTF. I really shouldn’t; it deserves more weight.
Our first mistake was going outside to see if we could help. With four fire trucks and an army of trained professionals, they didn’t need nosy neighbors getting in the way. We asked, they declined, and we kept our distance while the snow kept falling. Personally I think I was there as much for a morbid fascination as I was to be useful. Like I said, I’d never seen a house fire. Now I know why we go to great lengths to avoid them.
Then the tree next to us broke in half. I will remember the sound of that crunch until the day I die. The three of us looked up and saw the better portion of a 30-foot tree coming down on us. I don’t remember much of what happened next, only running. Running and shouting at each other to get to the garage. I looked up and saw the power lines swinging over my head. The branch hit the pavement without any of us beneath it, but the electric vines still threatened to fall at any second.
When we made it back to the house we were shaking. I was giggling like Mark Hamill’s Joker from the adrenaline, even while I felt like throwing up. Adrenaline is an unpredictable drug that I’ve never grown fond of. I thought the closest I’d come to serious injury or death was under that shattered tree. The next morning we saw what else broke:
We’re still without power, just like most of the gas stations in southern New Hampshire, but we’re safe. Thank God we’re safe.
(And I’m still playing a show Friday night with Runtt at All Asia in Cambridge. Snow, blackouts, and panic ain’t keeping me from what I love to do.)