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OPINION | GARY SMITH: Isolated at home again, memories bring back an uneasy feeling

Winter storm invokes isolation flashback by Gary Smith | February 3, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

First off, everyone exaggerates. For instance, I just did.

Exaggeration, in fact, may be the cause of all of the world's problems (see there, I did it again!). It's certainly the cause, if not at least a major contributor, to much marital discord, family feuding, neighborhood disputes and not a few actual wars. Well, OK, that and invading someone else's country just because you can. That definitely ranks right up there. At least recently.

But the greatest, most heinous and insidiously threatening challenge with exaggeration (I am on a roll!) is that it tends to minimize as many things as it amplifies. Pumping up the volume to 11 tends to drown out the actual music. Don't tell that to heavy metal fans, however. Or if you do, say it loudly because, it's likely they can't hear you.

All of this is a long-winded way of pointing out that it's wrong of me to contend that I was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder during the recent winter weather. PTSD is a serious condition, not to be trivialized or taken lightly.

So no, to say that I was experiencing PTSD is a gross exaggeration. However. I sure didn't feel good.

The thing is, our somewhat unique terrain creates a situation where, whenever the occasional icy winter storm occurs, well, the place shuts down. Apparently this particular wave – or waves, but plural is never a good sign when it comes to bad weather – seems to have brought most of the country to a halt, in some cases down an embankment.

So our misery appears to have company even if, in this case, it does not necessarily love it.

I have lived here long enough that I know this, just as I know that this, too, shall pass. One of the reasons many of us stay home during icy conditions is we understand that in 24 to 48 hours, the ice will be gone, but broken bones and dented fenders take far longer to fix.

Also, let's be honest here. I am the Great Indoorsman. I typically feel no great urge to leave my home just to experience not being in it. I've found I appreciate nature best when it has 18 golf holes cut through it and a full-service clubhouse at the end.

Compelling me to stay home in bad weather is like tossing me in the proverbial briar patch. If that patch had central heat and about 15 streaming services.

The problem -- or at least the cause of my feelings of "not very goodness but certainly nothing that rises to the level of PSTD although I was very unhappy" (little long for a diagnosis, but there it is) -- is that, while the occasional winter storm is certainly not that unusual around here, we've just ended a period which was the very definition of unusual.

For two of the last three years, we have all been compelled to remain in our homes by something far more terrifying than a "here today, gone by the weekend" ice storm. And that was an experience I'm not the least little bit interested in duplicating, even if a lot of it wasn't unduly difficult for me.

Knowing you can leave your home, even if you choose not to, is decidedly different than having to stay in with no say in the matter. Even for an introverted homebody such as me.

So when I found myself stuck at home even with my work and the Lovely Mrs. Smith's impressive baking and soup-making skills to sustain me, I still felt ... anxious. Uneasy. And generally crankier than I normally am, which frankly tests the boundaries of good taste.

I knew in a few days all this would be over. The end was near – at least according to every local weather person, who repeated that timetable ad nauseam. I was a short-timer, looking forward to a weekend of unseasonably warm temps and trips to the trash and recycle cans that didn't resemble a Winter Olympics event.

Still, it just felt both familiar and unsettling at the same time. A little cabin fever with a side order of existential dread.

It is highly unlikely, doomsday predictions and scary sci-fi movies aside, that anything like those two years will ever happen again, at least not in my lifetime. Science and most of our better angels stepped up.

I knew that, know that. And still, for just a few days, I'm not sure I believed it. And I felt that unease again.

And that was no exaggeration.

Print Headline: That uneasy feeling


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