Surviving yet another ‘first’ for me

Published 8:23 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2010

During my first semester in northern Virginia, a huge storm hit with lightening that turned the skies purple. It was raining, but it was warm outside – a phenomenon to any Californian.

It’s never warm when it rains. A low of 55 degrees with rain is the worst of our winter.

Needless to say, I dragged my Ohioan roommate outside to walk with me in the rain. She thought I was a fool but got the message when every single person at our school from California was outside staring up at the sky like gold was falling from it.

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Besides that sweet tea, there are few things that have been true novelties to me. But, even after living in Virginia for five years, I’m still experiencing a few “firsts” – to my undying embarrassment.

I had my first southern barbecue last week, and I will admit – although the vinegar burned my stomach – I did enjoy it. I also learned what a ham biscuit is. While I could guess what it was from its name, it was new to me to find out that entire trays are made of them.

Another first for me was a road trip in snow – before it had been cleared from the roads. I’m not sure how I avoided driving in the snow for the past few years in northern Virginia. I was probably hiding inside with my dear friends – DeTocqueville, Socrates and company – where it was warm and safe and had no need that would cause me to risk life and limb on the icy streets outside.

Last Friday, however, I made a 5-hour trek up to Sterling to pick up my brother and mother who had flown in from California for a debate tournament my brother was competing in.

My husband called to tell me we’d received at least eight inches by Saturday morning. At the time, a flake hadn’t fallen in NOVA.

I spoke too soon.

Within the hour, the skies dumped four inches, and it just kept coming. The next day I packed my family into my husband’s truck and braced ourselves for a slippery ride home.

I spent the next five hours in the most perilous drive I’ve ever attempted. We made it home safely and not too late. But, for the next three days, I found myself trying to stay out of the snow banks and upright. It seemed every sidewalk and parking lot in the area turned into ice skating rinks. I had to slide across everything to get anywhere.

I did however manage to survive my first “big” storm unscathed and clocked nearly 400 miles in the process.