I have peaked on snow. It may seem a strange thing to say but the more I think about it, experience it and sit here looking at it, the more I feel that it is exactly how I feel.
My snow karma over the past few weeks has been beyond the pale: I have driven in it, been stranded in 18 inches of the stuff, literally, I have hitch hiked through it, packed a van in a blizzard, sat in a plane at Paris Airport being hosed down by cranes spraying orange anti-freeze all over the exterior, landed in a another blizzard just five minutes after the runway re-opened. This morning I looked at the endlessly falling snow and cried. I had had enough, and I still had to face a 20 minute walk uphill, thankfully, in leather soled shoes with two cold children to find an RER station to take us to the Eurostar. All our luggage is lost in it, we have sat for two hours now, stationary, in the 1st class cabin of the train waiting whilst the train in front of us has got itself embedded in more of the white stuff….. I feel that I have done my bit as far as full-on snow is concerned.
Ironically I spent several days in Iceland recently and there was not a flake… but I digress.
What has been interesting through all of this is how much I have had to battle with myself.
Whilst stuck in Kent I was alone. That in its’ self was a trip. A rented long wheel-base white van stuck in a snow drift takes me to places that all my travels with nomads in India and elephants in Africa cannot touch. The voices in my head whilst I marched through the snow, hitch-hiking to get to a main road and being ignored, were quite wild; not only was I astonished by how little a good handbag does for one, but I had not really taken in that I might look dangerous or scary enough not to stop for in 18 inches of snow. It was rather an eye opening experience. When a car did finally stop, and it was just a Golf, none of the tractors or Range Rovers saw fit, I took a moment and a sharp deep breath to get myself into the car. The driver seemed perfectly respectable, but who the hell were they?
Luckily they were the manager of the place I was finally headed towards and I rode with him all the way. Delightful.
In the last few days getting to and from Morocco on a schedule provided by the film producers and travelling with an 8 year old girl and early teen boy I have met a whole raft of other aspects of myself that I could honestly wish would go to hell.
The 24/7 experience of sharing every moment of my waking, sleeping, bathroom, food and walking life with two kids is one thing. To have every strand of patience, tolerance, calmness, reserve, and charm torn to shreds by the plans badly laid by another and blasted to smithereens by the humour of the Divine has been something else entirely.
I have talked myself through pretty much all of it with aplomb, I have. To an outsider I have been calm, amusing and kind. Inside I have been a boiling pot of fury, helplessness, rage, irritation, and insane longings to be left alone just for 5 minutes. It has been a wild and trippy journey just watching myself.
The delightfully amusing steward on the Air France flight last night who informed me, in front of both my children that not only were we taking off into 190 kph winds, but we would hopefully land and it would be a blizzard, joyfully told me how calm and serene he found me in the face of 24 hours travelling, no food, missed connections and lost luggage. The ability to smile sweetly, to keep the illusion and keep going onwards are aspects of myself that I rather like.
But I really have hit moments, minutes and hours, when I have wished I was a better person. Not an experience I have ever enjoyed, feeling like that.
The upside has been the indomitable aspects that so many of us have in a crisis: the people we have spent fleeting moments with, the hilarity, like when all the lights went out at Casablanca Airport last night after 8 hours of waiting for a plane, and the man next to me started singing Happy Birthday. Such a great humour!
Last night I waited in a blizzard with freezing kids and grumpy other displaced passengers for taxis that would take Air France vouchers. None would. I finally peaked and organised 7 of us to share a large van thing and we all, strangers, travelled through the surreal Paris snow storm to a hotel for the night with a driver who must have been heaven-sent he was so wonderful.
Now I sit on a Eurostar train, having abandoned the idea of flight and all luggage, with a woman sharing our table who is funny, thus far enduring 36 hours of travel from Singapore. She is a delight and makes the whole thing the adventure it really is.
The thought of Christmas in an Ibis Hotel on the outskirts of Paris was too awful, but heading out into the snow, the moments, the meetings, the dialogues and the positive energy that one can meet and manifest make it all an experience I am pleased to say I am having. And I am incredibly proud of my children who have been amazing throughout. Taking it all in their stride and only loosing their cool for short moments.
Perhaps I can adjust my feelings about snow, after all…… but then I have to be careful. I am still on the train and it has taken almost all afternoon to get to Calais and we have stopped, just short of the tunnel….. massive snowflakes abound…. 32 hours later…