one day in february of 1977, a friend and i left the house we shared and drove about 45 miles to a town in the next state over to meet some people and conduct a rehearsal of a music group we were working with.
if you sit down on that snowdrift and go to sleep, you will die.
this particular february day was unusual in that, when we left our house in western massachusetts that morning, it was already in the upper fifties with a clear sky; an early taste of spring. i dressed in hush puppies, chinos, a sport shirt and a windbreaker; ed dressed in something similar. when we arrived at the rehearsal site in eastern new york an hour later, it was warm enough that both of us remarked that we felt as if we had over-dressed; by the time our rehearsal had ended at 3:00 that afternoon, it was pushing 70 degrees. unfortunately, when we left the rehearsal hall, we also discovered that ed's car had been stolen. we called the police, talked to some officers, filled out the necessary paperwork and then were left to figure out how we were going to get home.
we decided to hitch-hike.
at first, our luck was good, and we got a ride out of town that dropped us at the intersection of the road we needed to take to get home. as the sun set, it started to get colder, and we walked, heading east along the road back home, sticking out our thumbs whenever a car went by. within a couple of rides, we were nearly halfway home.
it was around this time that our luck started to run out; our second ride dropped us at a pretty deserted intersection (the road we were on was the one that would take us to the interstate, but we had a good twenty miles to go before we got there) and it had gotten sharply colder. to add insult to injury, it had started snowing, and within minutes, it seemed we were caught in a blizzard (as it turned out, we were in fact caught in the worst blizzard in eastern new york in recorded history for that date in february).
at this point, we were caught in the dark, in the middle of nowhere, in a blinding snowstorm, twenty miles from the nearest town, dressed for a spring picnic, not a trek through a blizzard. with limited options, we continued to head east, still hoping to hitch a ride home.
within an hour, over a foot of snow had dropped and we hadn't seen a single car on the road since we were dropped off by the last good samaritan. and, since the road we were on was not a major interstate, we saw no plows or road crews of any kind, either. after two hours, the snow was knee-deep, and i was nearly exhausted (did i mention we were also hiking steadily up the into the foothills of the berkshire mountains?); for the first time, i said to ed, "i need to stop and rest a minute; i'm really tired". ed told me he knew some girls who had a house right on this road and we should keep going; it was just over this next hill.
so i kept going.
but in less than another hour, the snow was nearly hip-deep, and i was totally exhausted; i had to stop and take a break. i couldn't go another step. i felt so sleepy; all i wanted was a little rest... ed said, "no. let's keep going; it's just over this next hill".
it took us nearly eight hours of hiking through hip-deep snow in our spring-time clothes to reach the house where ed's girl friends lived. i can't tell you how many times i wanted to just sit down in a convenient snowdrift and take a little nap, but every time i tried to, ed would say the same thing; "no. let's keep going; it's just over this next hill".
i thought, the next day, and have thought many times since that night, that if ed hadn't been there to keep saying, "no. let's keep going; it's just over this next hill", that i would've just sat down in one of those snowdrifts to take a nap and frozen to death. as it was, we both got frostbite in both of our hands and feet, but we lived to tell the tale.
quitting smoking can be very much like that trek ed and i made through that blizzard that night, and i'm here to tell you; don't give up. don't stop to take a rest. don't give in to the urge to "take a break" from your quit. there's no such thing as just one. if you take one back, you have to take them all back. if you sit down on that snowdrift and go to sleep, you will die.
keep going. it's just over this next hill.