Lee-Ann-Brown-ice-on-the-roadI hear you loud and clear.

by Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown


I had told my mom that yes, once again, I would come down to her place at the beach and house and pet sit for her while she went on her yearly January cruise. In the past, I have always looked forward to this week as a chance for me to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the daily distractions and constant demands of my life. And, just as much, I always look forward to disconnecting from my virtual life and going off in search of myself, to write, exercise, food-detox, and generally have a chance to come back as Sofia Vergara.

But this year was different. Being a new empty nester, I now have as much time to myself as I want. More than I need. Much more, even with my husband at home. So I didn’t really need to get away, but my mom was depending on me, so I went.

The first two days there went great. Her dog, Princess, goes on a hunger strike in protest of Mom’s absence and my arrival and hides under the bed; I totally forget she’s there, so we get along just fine. Also, it was 70 degrees and sunny, and I actually got a little sunburn after a couple of mornings at the beach.

When I left Birmingham, I had heard that there might be a dusting of snow here, but mostly in the southern part of the state. I was glad I made it down to Florida before it arrived. I didn’t pay any attention to the beach forecast, thinking I was further south. I was completely caught off guard when the ice came. And then I found out that Birmingham had been caught by surprise in a total snow and ice shutdown.

Since I had not expected the winter weather to impact me, I had not gone to the grocery store for milk and bread to make milk sandwiches, so I was at the mercy of whatever food my mom had in stock, which wasn’t much. She is not now, nor has she ever been, known as a cook. At first I thought it might be a good thing that Princess wasn’t eating her food, as I might have to have it myself, depending on how long this all lasted. At least Mom keeps a well-stocked wine rack.

Now, you would think that with all this time alone I would have gotten the next great American novel written, and with only dog food and wine, lost that stubborn six pounds. But, sadly, not so. I guess the fact that Princess is overweight should have forewarned me. And I was wrong about shivering burning calories, too.

With all the social media, I never felt more connected in my life. In fact, it was like I was hooked up to some sort of virtual drip supplying me with a continuous stream of information, updates, photos, and videos. I kept in touch with everything that was going on back home by constantly texting and scanning Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and Instagram photos. I couldn’t get enough of anything: food, heat, information, or contact. The fact that I was actually completely ice-alated made disconnecting the last thing I wanted to do.

I was so thankful that my family was OK, but I was worried about all the kids left in schools, and stranded motorists, and the sick and the homeless, and the elderly. And then, I began to see the stories of all the good Samaritans, and how the city came together to help each other in time of need and distress. I saw how much humor came out in people’s stories. And it warmed my heart.

Luckily, the ice melted before Princess and I turned on each other, and right after the last drop of wine. So, once the roads, and I, were all dried out, I went to get some people food.

After seven days alone, I couldn’t wait to get home. I didn’t get a thing written. I was inundated with talking, texting, and commenting with everyone I barely knew. All the conversation while being completely ice-alated for a week was exhausting. I couldn’t wait to get back home to the city, surrounded by everybody, pull the plug on all my devices, and finally get some peace and quiet.•

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