“School will be canceled tomorrow due to the extreme conditions of this winter event.”
The automated message was from the county school district. I rolled my eyes as I ended the call. Here we go again. The first whisper of real winter weather and our entire South Carolina town shuts down. A mass explosion of shoppers raids the grocery stores for milk, bread, and eggs. And then everyone hunkers down and waits for the apocalyptic first flurry.
Well, this “winter event” did not disappoint. Our little beach town in South Carolina got a whopping five inches of snow. That is pretty epic for us. With work and school canceled, everyone headed out to play and build snowmen peppered with pine straw and leaves.
My family joined in on the fun as well, but we soon realized that each time we went inside to warm up, we weren’t getting all that warm. Our heating unit for the house is simply not used to cranking out the heat in temps in the teens.
My husband Victor and I looked at each other like kids who’ve been told it’s time to leave the playground. We knew what had to be done to keep our family warm. We had to get back under the house and finish the insulation job that we had started a couple months earlier.
“Don’t worry about it,” Victor said. “I got it.” He headed to the shop to start getting out the equipment needed to do the job.
I felt sorry for him. I knew how terrible this job was. We had started it together in the warmer months, and it was not a task either one of us wanted to revisit. As he crunched through the snow, I shouted after him, “It’s okay, I’ll come help you. We can do it faster together.”
I could see the relief in my husband’s eyes as we began preparing for this job together. It was so cold as we suited up. We looked like those guys that go into Ebola-infested villages (decked out in white protective suits, masks, and goggles). We were using headlamps to see in our crawl space, dodging spiders that had found shelter in the darkness.
This was definitely not the stage for romance. Yet while we were crawling around under there, cutting and stuffing insulation above our heads, my husband said to me, “If I didn’t have so much insulation on my face, I would make out with you right now.” We both lowered our masks and offered each other a little kiss, carefully trying not to make contact with the insulation fragments that were hovering over our faces.
I thought it was so funny that he was attracted to me at that moment. But I know why. Something happens between partners when you come along side each other, not because you have to but because you want to. It’s a special way of saying without words, “I love you, and I am with you through the good times and the not-so-pleasant times.”
I didn’t have to crawl under the house with him. But the fact that I wanted to do that job with him, because I didn’t want him to endure the misery alone, made him feel really loved. And the fact that he would do something he didn’t want to do for his family made me feel the same way.
“You are one tough cookie,” Victor muffled through his mask. I could not have felt more complemented even if I had been wearing a ballroom gown and Victor was sending flirtatious whistles my way.
We had a lot of fun down there, telling each other jokes and enjoying the satisfaction of fixing our cold-house problem together. Throughout the job we would glance out the crawl space door and watch the snow fall. It was a special moment. There in that damp, dark, cold, and itchy place, Victor and I insulated more than just our house.
Coming alongside each other, in a place where neither of us really wanted to be, insulated our relationship as well. It was so satisfying to get inside and watch the thermostat finally begin to rise. But cuddling up with each other, knowing that we are there for each other, in the house or under the house, provides a far more satisfying and long-lasting warmth.