Props to Bill Roehl for giving me a mental nudge and the idea for this blog post.
It was March 1993, and my husband and I lived in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. I was six months pregnant with my firstborn, Alex, and at a point where I could enjoy my pregnancy. I never said "no" to seconds or dessert, after battling nonstop morning sickness for the first four months. My husband travelled constantly for his job, and that week was no exception. I worked four ten hour shifts, Sunday through Wednesday, and spent my three days off each week getting ready for our son's arrival. We had a cute little house and a cat-life was good.
If you've spent any time in the South, you know that the entire region is unprepared to deal with snowfall in any quantity. If even a few flakes are threatened, everyone flocks to the grocery and buys all the milk, bread and beer their carts can hold. I heard some rumblings about a storm beforehand, so on Thursday night I went to the grocery and stocked up with a few days worth of food. I wasn't afraid of driving in the snow, I simply didn't care to fight the crowds of weather fearing southerners if things started to get ugly. I honestly didn't think anything would even come of it. The pregnancy dominated my every thought then. On Friday, I went to the mall and bought a few books-I remember one was The Bridges Of Madison County, but I can't remember the others.
I woke up early Saturday morning and knew something was wrong. It was thundering, and lightning darted across the sky. Very unusual for March in Atlanta. The blinds were closed in our bedroom and bathroom so I didn't realize how freaky the weather really was. I got out of bed, followed by Gracie Mae, my constant companion. We went to get breakfast in the kitchen and I stopped in my tracks. As the thunderstorm raged, so did a snowstorm. The drifts were already a foot deep on our deck. I had never seen those two weather events occur simultaneously-and never have since either.
The power worked fine, but the cable was out. My husband hadn't given me his trip itinerary, so I didn't have a number to call him. This was in the days where you had to pay for long distance, children, and there was no internet available to look up hotels in other states. I phoned my parents to let them know what had happened, and my dad advised me to turn on the gas stove and leave it on just in case the electric went out. That was good advice, because just then the power started to flicker. We also had a gas fireplace, so that helped with heat as well. I gathered candles and a flashlight and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I hadn't eaten one in years, but the pregnancy brought with it a penchant for foods I enjoyed as a child. I settled into the couch with an afghan, and the cat nestled in the crook of my legs.
I initially awakened about six in the morning and around eight o'clock, the phone started ringing. My brother-in-law called and asked if I needed anything. He and his family lived about a half hour away, but there was no way to reach me since the roads were all closed down, and none of us had four wheel drive vehicles back then anyway. Soon co-workers began to call, worried about my delicate state. My boss called, my husband's boss called, my aunt in Kentucky called. I assured them all that I was fine and perfectly content to sit through the storm. I had plenty of food, there were no pregnancy related complications and it would take a helicopter to reach me anyway.
I didn't hear from my husband until later in the afternoon. He was stuck in Buffalo, NY and had no idea that I was stranded in our house-or even the extent of the storm's devastation. By then, I was cooking up a plate of spaghetti, one of my other favorite pregnancy meals. Fortunately, my mother had recently sent me a case of Mid's Spaghetti Sauce jars, so I was well prepared for the four days of solitary confinement. I read The Bridges of Madison County, and wept through it. I worked on counted cross stitch projects and watched movies from our meager VHS collection. Likely, I took a lot of naps. Our long distance bill likely topped $100 that month thanks to my unplanned imprisonment. I cheerfully ate sweet and sour pork every night, indulging another of my prenatal cravings.
I was stranded inside for a total of three days before I dared to venture outside. My car stood safely in the garage, but our house sat at the top of a steep 150 foot driveway. Our home was at the bottom of a hill. All those hills were still covered in deep, slushy snow and I had a stick shift Volkswagen Jetta with no snow tires. On the fourth day, I attempted to leave, but gave up when my car started to slide off the driveway. On the fifth day, enough snow had melted that I could make the trip to my office with little concern for my safety. Almost no work was accomplished once we all returned. We regaled each other with tales of being stranded, brave walks to grocery and convenience stores in search of supplies, and makeshift tools used as snow shovels.
Sadly, General Electric decided our time off for the blizzard would need to come from our vacation days.