White Fluff, Whiter Ice

It doesn’t snow much where I live in the Pacific Northwest. I remember a sprinkling of large, widespread “snowstorms,” but nothing that ever lasted longer than a couple of days and before learning about global warming and climate change in high school, nothing to indicate that the ice-filled slip-and-slide walks to school and work would become normal. Because of this, I don’t think the city and surrounding area ever had the proper infrastructure or was ever prepared for snowy conditions. Every time, we were perplexed at the thought of snow chains, salting sidewalks, paving side streets. Every time, we fumbled through, mumbled under our breaths, and hoped the car wouldn’t spin out. We didn’t expect this and were surprised by each separate arrival.

Christmas 2017 it snowed here, and the ice clung to sidewalks and weighed down trees for days after. I didn’t have time off from work or the ability to work from home, so I took a deep breath and went out to slide my way to the bus stop. During one unavoidable, treacherous patch of parking lot, I thought about how there’s always something trying to knock me down.

Literally knock me down. But I sat with it more this year as 8 inches fell overnight, two separate times in a week. Of course there was caution associated with walking through slush and black ice, but I kept musing over how I felt unexpectedly scared and unsafe when I thought it was fluffy snow and there turned out to be ice underneath.

It was a similar I shoulda known better, why am I surprised feeling I got moments after my assumption I was in a safe space manifested into oh, the racism is showing. That jarring jolt of my increased heartbeat, the deep breath and trek forward. The raised eyebrows and frown automatically knew to settle into a poker face.

Hidden below, buried sometimes layers and often times closer to the surface than anticipated, the oppression came to life during moments unexpected. There’s always something trying to knock me down. And sometimes I’m still surprised by each arrival, the myriad of new ways it comes packaged.

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