What an interesting night I had last night. There are four of us who kind of look out for each other, having met at a particularly vulnerable time in our lives. We check in with each other, and help each other as we can. One of the four is in a bad way. It is very hard to hear and see this. Cutting us out slowly, which would be fine if he was moving on to better things, he is not. He is struggling. This kind, gentle, intelligent, sensitive man is, in my opinion, in a bad way. Having been majorly betrayed by those he trusted and loved most in the world, it is very hard to watch someone you love go through this.
With goodness in our heart and looking out for his welfare, all with good intentions, my girlfriend and I (2/4) decided to drive up to see him, to check on him. 20 degrees out, it had snowed yesterday, not ideal driving conditions. Also, heading out at 9;15pm at night, with a 35 minute ride ahead of us was not the smartest thing we could do.
Off to Dunkin Donuts to get hot chocolate and iced coffee we made our way north to the town he lives in. Both of us frustrated with the hard winter we are having, alone with the responsibilities and challenges of singlehood, we validated for each other the sometimes harsh realities and difficulties in basic survival. Living in Vermont, New England is expensive. It is beautiful, but it is expensive. Winter presents more challenges, and while we are both survivors, we are also limited. I am fortunate, I have wonderful neighbors. They help me out when they can with the yard, shoveling, salting the icy walks and drive. It is nice to know that others care.
Now in pitch dark, with very little light from the moon, no street lights, and no lights in houses showing signs of civilization, we first took the wrong road, quickly figured out after going up this long windy drive. We found the road he lives on, and it is very secluded there. It’s quiet beautiful. He enjoys his solitude and he certainly can have it there. As we made the left into his long and windy driveway we noticed his car which obviously didn’t make it up the drive, was in a few yards from the road. There would be no driving up in 4wd to check on him. In the pitch dark, in heavy 3-4′ of snow in areas, we decided to let things be. As I backed out, which was difficult to see, we went off the side of the road into 4-5′ of snow. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.
For a good hour the two of us worked on getting unstuck. My girlfriend who is as short as I am tall, had the idea to put twigs and branches underneath the tires. It would have worked if we had better access to the bushes. Thankful I had kitty litter in the back of the jeep we put that in front and behind the wheels, kicking away snow as we go. I had on my big LL Bean boots, with no socks. Brilliant of me… Now drenched, her up to her waist and mine to my thighs, below freezing our efforts went in vain, sliding back down into the hole. My girlfriend has neuropathy in her feet. I was getting very concerned for her, she would not be able to feel the cold, thus the perilous frost bite that comes after being exposed to the cold, and soaking wet, that long. After realizing that we needed assistance she messaged our friend who we are assuming was in bed. This is a person who wants to be left alone. I know when I am in that place I just want to be left to my own demise, and unfortunately that isn’t particularly healthy or helpful… Anyway he messages us “Are you kidding? Get in the car and stay there, I’ll be down with the snow blower. Jumping back into the jeep, turning the heat on, we realize there is only cold air blowing…no heat. Great! After 15-20 minutes he made his way down the very long windy dark drive with his snow blower. He was not happy. I asked if he was mad at me and his only reply was “Yup”. And then informed us he had locked himself out of his house… After 25-30 minutes of snow blowing a shovel was necessary to get below the jeep, the tires. Of course I didn’t have one. He got into the jeep to see what exactly it was doing to determine how to get us unstuck. Not familiar with the vehicle he is seeking the 4wd buttons and hits the sunroof button. Snow collapses in all over him. He maintains his composure, have to give him credit for that. This is a very kind person, very kind. Clearly he didn’t want to see us, and obviously didn’t want to be out, now at 11:30pm getting us unstuck. He hikes back up his driveway now going further to his barn to find a shovel. He returns, by now I have my girlfriend staying in the jeep, soaking wet jeans, up to her waist, sub freezing temps, he shovels for several minutes, has my girlfriend drive as he and I pushed. He, obviously with much more strength, falls flat on his face after the jeep moves but not to a point where we were unstuck. More shoveling. He slips into the drivers seat and we push as he goes in reverse. He succeeded and backed the jeep rather quickly down to the road.
“Will you come to one of our houses, we will bring you back in daylight?” NO. Good grief, all of our good intentions turned into more work for him. We ask again “No, I have a long day tomorrow”. With that he made his way back up the drive to the snow blower and headed back, in the pitch dark, on the long windy drive.
As we jumped into the jeep to head back home we were both quiet for a couple of minutes. What a disaster this has turned out to be. And how stupid we, intelligent, obviously educated to the dangers of winter, went off in the middle of the night to very rural back hills Vermont. I apologized profusely. My girlfriend is very cool, and like any single female who lives in Vermont and owns your own home, you have to be tough or very wealthy to hire things done. We had both maintained our sense of humor through it all, and that continued on the way home though now our moods are a bit more somber. Assuring me we’ll all be well, she is a good friend.
The 30 minutes drive back to her house with soaking wet jeans, no heat was long. Both of us were shivering. I asked her to message me in a few minutes as to how she felt, again concerned for her with all the challenges she has physically. Both she and I have compromised immune systems. This was really not a good thing. It took me another 20 minutes to get home, now past 1am, I read a message from her that she is okay, drinking tea, dry and we bid each other a good nights sleep which we both had no doubt, was not going to happen.
Both of us having two dogs to take out before bedtime, both of us doing so with our already wet clothes because the last thing you want to do when you get out of them, when you peel the jeans off your body, is go back out again. With our dogs taken care of, we went to bed…
About 5am the chill started to dissipate my tired body. Covered with 3 comforters, surrounded with animals whom serve as little space heaters, I laid and thought about how stupid I had been. I grew up here, I know better than that. I let my concern for a friend taint my better judgment. I really screwed up. I put not only myself but my two friends in harms way. THINK Donna… THINK. My therapist is not going to be happy with me regarding this one, having discussed and worked on making my own welfare first. I failed last night, and I failed two friends.
I fell asleep about 6:30, woke up to the phone at 8:30. Off to help out my mom as a good daughter would. I’m just arriving home, tired, very somber and very grateful that we are all okay.
I’m not sure when we will hear from our friend again. We surely pissed him off more. On the trip home we discussed how he must realize how much we care for him, and that now it was time to step back and hope he makes his way out of the darkness. We are not totally helpless, we surely can pray for him, send good thoughts his way.
I haven’t heard from my girlfriend for 9 hours. I know she had two doctors appointments. I am hoping that I will find her in good health though undoubtedly fatigued. I am about to set up the vaporizer in my bedroom to hopefully stunt this cold coughing that I picked up overnight. She was coughing prior to our trip, so obviously there is concern for her there. Update: I just spoke with her, she is doing alright, encouraging me to let it all go… it’s over, done…
I guess the lesson, todays lesson…. we cannot help someone who doesn’t want the help. We can reach out our hands to offer our support, but we can’t fix this for him just as he couldn’t fix it for us, had it been one of us in this place. I do believe it will be a while until we hear from him again. I do want to believe that when he comes out the other side we will sit in our favorite diner, laughing about last nights adventure. I do hope he is able to take away from this that we are his friends, that we care, very much so. If wishes were horses, we would all ride….
Am now heading back to the warmth of the comforters piled on my bed, grateful that we are all okay. The fireplace that normally offers penetrating heat, well the tank is on “e”. My fuel gauge is at 1/4, and we still have a couple months of cold winter weather so I’m keeping the temperature at 62. My house made some very loud and scary sounds, twice now. I am concerned about the roof. Tomorrow we are getting freezing rain, ice… this could prove to be interesting. The older I get? The older winter in Vermont gets. As I sit in my house with now four broken windows, portable air conditioners that didn’t make it out of the windows before snow fall, a door which will not open…I’m thinking maybe it’s time to give it up, give up winters in Vermont…My beloved Vermont.
Okay so I’m not stupid… I just didn’t exercise my best judgment!
If you want to bet on anything today, bet that I will not share this experience with my dad…. he taught us to be smarter than this!