Monday, January 6, 2014

When the weather outside is frightful

My first post of the year, and I’m writing from Chiberia. We’ve hit record low temperatures, with today’s “high” at –11. That’s –29 Celsius. And that’s not counting the –55 F (-48 Celsius) wind chill factor. There’s a weather advisory—DO NOT GO OUTSIDE UNLESS YOU’RE INSANE! (Or something to that effect)—and for once, the weather people are actually right. It’s frickin’ cold. 

It all started with a snow storm last week, right around New Year’s Day. We were stuck in the house on the first day of the year, but on the 2nd, which also happened to be My Guy’s birthday, we couldn’t fathom being inside again, so we braved the storm for a trip to the Field Museum. But, first, we had to go through this.

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We made it, obviously, even though we could barely make out the city skyline, and we actually had a great time. My Guy and I were enthralled by the Chicago World Expo exhibit, and the girls were enamored by everything else.

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Hi, Sue the T-Rex!

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So. Much. Information. 

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Look, a Pteranodon!

Then, the plan was to head home, put the girls to bed, and head out to dinner at a new, highly acclaimed restaurant and a movie. But the snow wouldn’t stop, and My Guy had to shovel to get *into* our parking spot so by the time he was done, he was just done. He didn’t want to leave the house again. We also didn’t want our sitter, who had to drive 30 minutes to our place, to have to negotiate the treacherous roads.

To try to make it up to him, I baked him his favorite butterscotch bundt cake, and we had sushi delivered while we watched Spaceballs on our stay-home date night. Not the most ideal birthday, but hey, at least nobody died. I think that’s a good tradeoff.

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Besides, we had a party planned for the weekend to celebrate the new year and his birthday, so we figured we could just save all the merriment for another day. Except the snow just would not relent.

Our guests were mostly from the far suburbs, as they’re My Guy’s friends and business partners, and making the trek to the city on a regular day would’ve been hard enough. But to throw in 10 inches of snow on top of that? Sheer nightmare.

So, again, we had to cancel our plans. No party on Saturday. Although he tried not to show it, My Guy was really, really disappointed, and what’s worse was that I couldn’t do anything about it.

He had been looking forward to having his friends over for awhile, and knowing it was a birthday celebration, I took the effort to actually not procrastinate this time and cooked the day before the actual party. I made a feast of Indian dishes and even baked some cookies for over 30 people.

And, of course, that was the day nature had other plans for us.

On Sunday, temperatures plummeted and the weather advisory kicked in. Not only would we have another snow day, there would also be a chill that would make the Arctic seem like Florida compared to Chicago Chiberia. Great. Another bust. What the heck were we going to do with those large pots and pans of food?

Then we realized, those traveling far might not make it (and who could blame them?) but perhaps our friends and neighbors from our hood wouldn’t mind attempting a few minutes of soul-invigorating air if we bribed them with hot toddies, Indian food, and decent company. By then, we were pretty sure anyone with a kid who’ve been stuck at home that long would be so ready for a break from their own confinement, so perhaps we would be doing them a favor?

And that’s how we had a house full of guests on Sunday, when most sane people were huddled by their heat vents in their homes.

We extended our invitation, or rather, plea for help to local folks in the morning, and by the evening, guests showed up in full snow gear to help us salvage our weekend. And boy did they surpass our expectations. We went from “let’s do this so we don’t have to eat curry for the next five days” to “ohmygod, we had the best time.”

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It helped that we were fully equipped for Snowpocalypse 2014, which included vast quantities of alcohol of every kind, but I think the party gave us all something beyond warm and full bellies. For some, it was perhaps a distraction from the grey doldrums of winter or a welcome respite from delirious cabin fever. Others, it may be that they needed to commiserate.

For me, it was definitely all of the above. 

After the departure of our guests, My Guy, who found it difficult to smile most of the weekend, beamed at me and said, “You know, we have really good friends. And they’re really good people too.” I had to agree.

And that, above all else, above the hot toddies and spicy curries and warm baths, was what kept us the warmest on the coldest night of the year.

*  *  *

To those who braved the elements that evening, thank you from the depths of my heart. Not only did it mean a lot to us, you made a certain birthday boy very, very happy.