Italian poet Dante Alighieri spent his time between the years 1308 and 1321 composing his famed piece of Italian literature, The Divine Comedy. This work expresses his views of the afterlife and describes his vision in three parts: Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise). The most famous of the three, Dante’s Inferno, is a brilliant piece in which he foretells the story of 21st century Boston, Massachusetts deep in the heart of winter. That’s what it’s about, right?
In Inferno Dante describes his journey through Hell with his buddy Virgil, because if you’ve made it to Hell we all know your best friend is probably right there beside you. Dante portrays Hell as nine circles of suffering with each deeper circle more horrific than the last. I think all of us 2015 New Englanders can relate to this.
Today marks two straight weeks of snowstorms for the Boston area. We have accumulated over seven feet of snow. Ahem… I said SEVEN and I said FEET together in the same sentence when referencing SNOW. What is this wickedness? There is so much of it and nowhere for it to go. We are getting buried deeper and deeper and with each passing day journeying closer to the center of Hell. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. This is the warning on the gates of Dante’s Hell and the Boston tourism board’s new slogan. No? Well if it’s not it should be.
CIRCLE ONE: LIMBO
Limbo, often referred to as “the edge of hell”. And if that ain’t the truth, I don’t know what is. I was born and raised in West Tennessee where it was magical if we saw enough snow in which to make a footprint. Our summers are hotter than Hell itself and our winters are juuust fine. This is what my body deems normal. I moved from Tennessee to southern Florida where I knew I belonged immediately. And you can just imagine the winters there. That’s right – there aren’t any. There was one day when the temperature got down to 46 °F and I thought I was going to DIE. Now, that’s just another spring day in Beantown. Now I live in “New England” which I think is roughly translated from “North Pole” but I can’t be sure.
Am I still a Southerner? Yes. I very much associate myself with being Southern. I haven’t yet adopted such Northeastern traditions as “bangin’ a U-ey” and carrying my shit in a “pocketbook” and I’m fairly certain that Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is just ground up dirt and dog feces heated to temperatures only found on the surface of the sun. I don’t pick apples or put “jimmies” on my ice cream and “candlepin” is not real bowling! And yet here I am. I live in New England now. Am I a New Englander? No and yes. I was a Southerner for 28 years but New England is where I live now and for as far into the future as I can see. I am in Limbo.
I spend an hour shoveling a path to my driveway and then indulge in a healthy meal of fried chicken and sweet tea. I bitch about our snow accumulation to my mama, my daddy, and my aunt (pronounced “ant“). After shoveling I take a hot shower and dry off with my monogrammed bath towels in the color of the SEC school I attended. I say things like, “Can y’all believe this weather!” to strangers at Target only to be looked at like I must be off my meds or something, if I get acknowledged at all. I just know they’re thinking, “Yeah I believe it, this is wintah in Bahston but why the fuck ah you talkin’ to me? Do we know each othah or somethin’? I’ll rip the nasty hair right outta yah fuckin head!” I’m in Limbo… and also a little scared of people.
CIRCLE TWO: LUST
You are waist-deep in snow now. You have lost all control over your life and now realize the only thing you can do is wait. It can’t be winter forever right? This isn’t Fargo, North Dakota! In the meantime all you can do is lust and lust hard. I have friends in Tennessee bragging about their “perfect patio weather” and friends in Florida posting all the beach selfies. I follow a lot of other travel bloggers who are currently posting from destinations like Thailand, Hawaii, and Central America. Right now – at the same time I am just trying to survive snowmaggedon. There are places where this Hell doesn’t exist and you can’t avert your eyes. It’s so beautiful. And hot. So hot. Give it to me! I want it!
CIRCLE THREE: GLUTTONY
There is so much gluttony happening in my snow-covered life. Most of said gluttony falls into one of three categories:
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: No explanation needed. They are fabulous.
- Sleep: In the bed, on the couch, standing up in the shower, in the car, in the middle of a glute stretch at the gym, on the weight bench, hanging from a trapeze bar, during the corpse pose, sitting up at your work desk with your eyes open. It’s just so cold and dark!
- Complaining: It is the only thing that feels good anymore.
CIRCLE FOUR: GREED
Dante describes two kinds of sinners in his fourth level of Hell: those who hoarded possessions and those who spent lavishly to acquire more. Things I have been hoarding since the beginning of our snowpocalypse:
- the hot water
- the blankets
- space in the garage
- recorded crime dramas on the DVR (For real though, how are they going to get away with murder?)
Things I have been greedily acquiring:
- plane tickets to foreign countries
- Puffs Plus with Lotion
CIRCLE FIVE: ANGER
This has got to be the most intense level. It’s been snowing, basically non-stop, for going on three weeks now. There have been about 75 snow storms dumping seven feet of snow in our area with two more storms in the forecast over the next four days. The anger level of Hell is scorching hot with greased sides so you can’t escape even if you wanted to. But do you really? Being angry is all we have left at this point. Go head, submit to the sweet, sweet fury burning inside you. With every flake of snow that falls tauntingly to Earth my desire to slam the snow shovel on the icy pavement of what used to be a driveway grows tenfold. Blood not boiling yet? Take the following into consideration and let me know how that’s working out for you:
- Driving a sports car on a road best suited for Humvees
- Running out of windshield washer fluid in the middle of your commute
- Slipping on ice with your hands in your pockets
- When the snow level is higher than your knee-high snow boots so it still gets in
- The all-consuming fear of losing fingers and toes
- Massive snow banks transforming eight-lane roads into two
- Your flight to Aruba just got canceled.
- Getting email from Victoria’s Secret letting you know their 2015 swimsuit line is now available
- When people don’t scrape the ice/snow mixture from the roofs of their cars and then it comes flying at your windshield on the highway at 1,000 mph causing a little pee to come out and your heart to stop beating for three whole seconds
CIRCLE SIX: HERESY
Seven feet of snow in 14 days – Seriously, is there a god?
CIRCLE SEVEN: VIOLENCE
Just watch me shovel a driveway. I think Old Man Marley showed us best that a snow shovel is a pretty bad ass weapon and I’ve got a 12-foot snow bank outside my garage that needs to be shown who’s boss. And don’t forget to take a baseball bat to the massive icicles hanging from your roof. Violence is the answer. Not to mention I’m going to slap the next bitch who tells me, “Just learn to ski then you will love winter!” CIRCLE EIGHT: FRAUD
This much snow is not beautiful. It is dangerous, overwhelming and exhausting. So when I see all the posted photos of snowy scenes with hashtags like #winterwonderland and #sobeautiful my FRAUD sensors go wild. THIS IS NOT REAL. Snow is not white. Snow is brown. It may have fallen white out of the sky but has since been stained by the road sand, your dog’s pee, motor oil, and blood from the hands of overworked shovelers.
CIRCLE NINE: TREACHERY
Circle nine was Dante’s deepest and most intense level. It’s so big that it is then divided into four sublevels.
Circle 9A: Betraying your family. I threw my cats in the snow after we hit three feet one day just to see what would happen.
Circle 9B: Betraying your city: Yeah, I’ve talked a lot of shit about New England lately. And though I’m in limbo I’m definitely leaning a little more to the South at this point in time. You’re on your own Boston!
Circle 9C: Betraying your guests: Let me put it this way, if you come to my house, you will have to shovel your own path to the door. Oh, and do you have a snow-blower that I can borrow and never return?
Circle 9D: Betraying your benefactors/lords/masters: Yeahhhh noooo I’m not coming into work today. This one is particularly interesting because the sinners in circle 9D are punished by entrapment in ice for all eternity. Oh NO! OK, I repent! I repent! I’ll be there! But I’m going to be late…