When there’s no fast-pass to the end of the drive


We have a long and narrow driveway. Our house sits back from the street, and it takes the length of (insert some sort of football field reference), before your reach our garage. It’s the type of driveway that makes you cringe when it snows, because you know the length of it might kill you, and you don’t really want to die wearing sweatpants, with dirty hair, and a shovel in your hand. (My husband would totally want to die this way, because it would prove that he worked so hard, all that work finally did him in.)

However, last week, dear husband lay on the sofa recovering from some stuff and some things, while I shoveled the length of our narrow drive after two snowstorms blew through. The snow muffled the sound of everything but the scrape of my shovel on ice and gravel. I repeated the motions of slide, lift, and throw, until my back and shoulders hurt from the effort. When I stood up straight every few feet to relieve the ache, I took a second to look forward and to look back. The progress felt so slow, almost imperceptible. Although, each time I stood up for a moment of relief, my boots stood just a little further from the house. And that tree? It used to hover in front of me, but from here, I could peer through the branches. The lights in the windows of the house grew slightly dim and fuzzy as I shoveled my way to the street.

I hoped someone would drive by and spare me the rest of the drive and the gigantic mound of snow piled at the very end of it. I wished a snow-blowing neighbor would see my slow progress and lend a hand. I may have hallucinated a scenario in which the snow plow miraculously appeared on our street and offered to take one giant sweep up the drive, at no cost to me. Because this? This sweating into my fleece pants, and imperceptible movement, and back-breaking effort? This cost me something.

It cost me in time and energy and heart. It cost me in comfort. It cost me an incredible amount of effort, when it would have cost snow-blow guy or truck-with-plow absolutely nothing. The long and narrow road is a hard one for those of us who take it one step at a time. For some, it’s a quick swipe through. It’s the fast-pass at Disneyworld, where pass holders secretly smile at their genius, while all the suckers in the long lane watch them climb aboard. I want the fast-pass. I don’t want to pay the price for the hard things. I don’t want it to cost me in tears and an aching back/head/heart. I don’t like the length and tight borders of this particular path I’m on right now.

When I reached the end, with visions of hot chocolate dancing in my head, I hit the hill, that crumbly mound of snow pushed aside from the street plow. I wanted to cry. Dear God, I’d come so far and now this–one last impossible hurdle. I looked back at the house, back from where I came. And I picked up my shovel, and dug into the silence.

Slide, lift, throw.