What A Pile - 10.29.97

When I was a kid, I thought winter was the best season by far. As soon as the leaves started falling from the trees in autumn, I would almost count the days until the first snow. When it finally did, I'd be outside playing for hours on end. If school was canceled due to the weather, it was even better because I'd have even more time to frolic. On days like this, all the neighborhood kids would come over and play by where my babysitter lived. The key attraction was the huge pile of snow that the plow would inevitably make off to the left of her driveway in the street.

Although it wasn't a monstrosity like the ones you see in mall parking lots, it was a big enough pile for several kids to play on. Usually, we'd start out with "king of the mountain." One person would try to secure their place at the top while everyone bum rushed them from all sides. It was kind of barbaric, but it was a lot of fun. The game would go on until someone got hurt or we all got tired. After settling down a bit, we'd start into building our snow fortress out of the pile.

By the time we were done with digging around, we'd usually have tunnels dug clear through the mound in a couple different directions. They all met in the middle in a sort of star shape, and you could turn around and exit out a completely different side. It was fun to crawl around in and was actually pretty spacious inside for a little kid.

One morning while going to my sitters, I knew there would be no school. It was snowing hard and the road was pretty slick. I could hear plows going around, but I knew it would be no use. When school time rolled around, the radio announced that it had been cancelled, just as I had suspected. I put on all my snow gear and headed outside as fast as I could. Within a half an hour, everyone was at the snow pile and we were already into a vicious game of "king of the mountain." I had stayed atop for awhile when a friend of mine busted me from the blind side and sent me flying off the pile. After repeating the exchange a couple more times, another friend of mine got clobbered from behind by someone. He fell forward and smashed into the snow face first. It was pretty funny looking, but soon we realized that there was blood on the snow by his face

Somehow, he had gotten a bloody nose and it was dripping all over the white snow. He kicked his head back and tried to stop it, knowing that if an adult saw it he would have to go inside. Eventually it stopped and we got rid of all the bloody snow, even though it made kind of a cool design. Our game having ended, we started digging our usual tunnels through the pile. We had gotten a good amount done when my sitter called me inside for lunch. As I went inside, everyone else fell pray to pavlovian response and started making their ways home for lunch also.

After drying off a bit and getting a bite to eat, I was ready to head outside again. I got bundled up in my partially wet clothes and ventured back out to the pile of snow. I thought I could impress everyone by trying to finish the tunnels before they got back. Just as I was starting to clear out the middle area, I heard some of my friends talking as they were on their way back. I was putting the finishing touches on one of the tunnels when I heard them yell, "KING OF THE MOUNTAIN" and knew I was in trouble. I tried scrambling out, but didn't quite make it by the time everything caved in on top of me.

Although my arms were clawing around frantically, my legs and torso were immobile from the packed snow. It was in my mouth and my nose and almost all outside light was instantly blanketed out. Fortunately my friends must have heard me yell, because they hopped off the pile and started digging. It was only a few seconds that I was completely buried, but it felt like several minutes. When I once again saw the light of day, my body tensed up and I tore myself out of the rest of the way. I sat back down on the pile of snow and just kind of shook for awhile. My body wasn't that cold, but it was shaking like I was going through minor convulsions.

Eventually, I calmed down again and brushed some of the caked snow off of my clothes. My friends were kind of just staring at me. They said sorry and after awhile everyone came back and we started up a huge snowball fight. Everything was cool, but there was an unwritten law never to play "King of the mountain" again after tunnels had been dug.

That's the story behind why I'm partially claustrophobic.