A Memoir by Katerina Tsasis

The essential function of a home is shelter—a place to feel safe and warm and dry. This winter we learned just how fragile our homes are and how much our shelter depends on the interconnected systems snaking underground and overhead, delivering heat and water and fuel and power throughout the city.

A once-in-a-generation storm, starkly beautiful, kept us indoors for days. Snow fell. We delighted in its novelty; the crunch under our boots, the cold glitter of frozen water on the lake. Forgive our ignorance. Ice slicked the streets. Lights went out. Taps dried up. The heat seeped through our walls as we huddled under coats and blankets, too cold to sleep.

Our devices, so high-tech and modern, lost their links to the web that envelops us all. We couldn’t work or call loved ones to tell them we were all right. We grew thirsty. We grew tired of eating out of cans—tuna and soup and beans—camping food. We grew weary of wrapping and re-wrapping our pipes with towels, warming them with hair dryers, praying that they please don’t burst. 

We didn’t dare complain because we were lucky. Others suffered. Others died. Like our homes, we are fragile, dependent on interconnected systems. Those systems failed us—two hundred and ten people lost their lives. We don’t dare complain. We are lucky.  

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Katerina Tsasis is a marketing consultant and writer based in Austin, Texas. Her essays have been published in the New York Times and Spillwords. When she’s not working, you can find Katerina making art or out in nature.

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