First Person

Snow Stories

Students navigate challenges and embrace opportunities offered by winter’s white companion.

Jaw-Dropping Recovery

By Trevor J. Fitzgerald (BS ’12, MISM ’12) | Long Beach, Calif.

During my sophomore year, I had extensive jaw surgery, but because the procedure was not entirely successful, a follow-up surgery was scheduled during the middle of a snowy winter. A few nights before the follow-up, Shelley Vrooman (BS ’09), my then fiancé, and I joined our singles ward at a sledding activity. Since my oral surgeon had given me strict instructions to avoid any physical activity, I watched for a while. But then I grabbed a sled and snuck away from the group to a dark part of the hill. I jumped on the sled, only to realize I was on slick ice. I flew down the hillside, hit an unseen jump at the bottom, and launched into the air. When I smacked the icy ground, I came down hard—on my jaw—and heard a loud pop.

The surgeon inspected my jaw the next morning and was shocked to discover that my mouth had perfectly realigned. I would not need any more surgeries! He declared it a miraculous recovery—and I never told him what really happened.

Sledding
Illustration by Travis Foster

Back From the Dead

By Michael T. Bingham (BA ’83) | Lakeland, Fla.

For my insect life class freshman year, we were required to collect, identify, and mount a number of insects. Our instructor urged us to not delay our collecting because once the temperature drops, the insect pickings become slim. After a couple of inches of snow fell one morning, I saw a dead wasp lying on top of the snow. I picked it up, silently thanked Heavenly Father for this morsel of insect manna, and carefully carried it in the palm of my hand back to the dorm. Living on the seventh floor of Deseret Towers was great for the view of campus, but the elevator ride was long. This time the crowded ride to the top got a little more exciting when the wasp suddenly flew out of my hand. When the door opened, five of us leap-frogged over each other to get out and the wasp disappeared down the hallway. In the next class my instructor explained the principle of insect chill coma.

Soggily Ever After

By Cindy Bishop Davis (BA ’93)| American Fork, Utah

My date and I entered Movies 8 during a blasting snowstorm. After the film, we walked out to complete white stillness. Tree limbs were heavy and the street below was covered under the winter blanket. The freshly fallen snow glistened in the light. It was breathtaking.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, my date opened his sunroof so we could get a better view—not taking into account the foot of snow that had accumulated atop the car while we were in the movie. I was instantly covered in cold, cold snow. We caught our breath, wiped our lids, and peered wide-eyed at each other. After a second, we simultaneously burst. Peals of laughter lasted for the rest of the date, which, honestly, wasn’t that long considering our soggy state.

Wigging Out

By Gayla Jeffery Erickson | West Jordan, Utah (BS ’74)

Arising after a late night of cramming for finals, I stared in the mirror at my frazzled hair. With no time to do anything about it, I slapped on a wiglet and secured it with a headband. Late that night, I slowly drove back to my dorm on icy roads. At the last intersection my old jalopy hit a patch of black ice, skidded, and crunched into a car idling at the stop sign. The police officer who responded asked for my driver’s license. I discovered I’d left it in my room, so assuring him I’d be right back, I scooted over to the dorm, grabbed the errant license, and trotted back. Could things get worse? Of course. I slipped on the ice. With limbs flailing, I smacked flat on my back. My hairpiece flew off my head and landed, looking like roadkill, at the officer’s feet. With a little sniff, he smirked, “Really, you don’t need to lose your head over this.”

(Snow)man of Many Faces

By Heather Jackson Shutt (BA ’98) | Greenville, Texas

One year my sister, Lorraine Jackson Starks (BA ’98), and I attempted to make a snowman on our duplex lawn, but, being from Texas, we couldn’t keep him standing. So we left him in a horizontal position and dubbed him “the sleeping student.” When the first of our roommates returned home, she greeted us with a thrilled, “You remembered!” Perplexed by her excitement we asked, “What did we remember?” She responded, “John Lennon’s death day! You built a memorial to him in front.” So we added flowers to the snowman’s chest and  had a moment of silence. But the tribute was cut short when our next roommate returned home from her job. She got out of her car, obviously upset. Her first words were, “You are so cruel! Did you forget that I worked at the morgue?”

Fallen Snowman
Illustration by Travis Foster

Doorstep Dilemma

By Tasha Layton (BA ’14) | Provo

I rounded the corner to my apartment after a particularly long date with my studies. My roommate was lingering in the doorway with her boyfriend. It was late, the snow was falling, and it was Valentine’s Day. Add that to my knowledge that he had not kissed her yet, and anyone could have seen where the two were headed.

I slunk back around the corner and seated myself on the steps, so as not to ruin the moment. I quietly pulled out a book, congratulating myself on being such a good roommate. Twenty minutes later, I had moved on to cursing the timidity that had seized the boy, as the two of them still stood in the doorway talking. A group of our neighbors started to pass by me. One of them asked, “Why aren’t you in your—oh.” She looked in the direction of my apartment and saw my dilemma. “Aw, you poor little snow-covered waif,” another one said. “Should we adopt you for a little while?” I nodded and followed them to their apartment, where I waited 15 more minutes before the way was clear.

Snow Rules

By Megan Cannon Warren (BS ’10) | Richfield, Utah

My freshman year at BYU I was praying for a double Christmas miracle: to pass my finals and to experience snow before leaving for the Christmas break. I grew up in Texas and had never seen a white Christmas. After a morning final in the Testing Center, I walked out to miracle no. 1: a picturesque winter wonderland! I jumped in every pile of snow I could find and purposely avoided the sidewalks so I could hear the snow crunch under my shoes. I littered my path home with snow angels. Only after approaching the dorms did I appreciate two fundamental rules of life with snow. First, jeans and tennis shoes are insufficient attire—I was half frozen. Second, fresh snow does not hold certain objects on its surface. In my mad rush to create as many snow angels as possible I had lost my keys. Thankfully, obliging roommates let me inside my dorm, and through the remainder of the week,
I managed to pass all of my finals.

After an agonizing four months, another miracle materialized: the last bit of snow melted and there were my keys—right outside my dorm.

Lessons in Laundry

They’re important life lessons: Hoard quarters. Stake out a machine on Wednesday at 10 a.m., because you’ll have no chance Saturday afternoon. Bring homework, but only the kind you can do with a rhythmic rumbling soundtrack. And of course, don’t let the cute stranger studying on an overturned laundry basket leave before getting at least a name. Whether from your dorm dungeon or your over-warm but always-fragrant apartment-complex laundromat, we want your story. Deadline: March 4.

BYU Magazine pays $50 for stories published in First Person. Send anecdotes (of up to 300 words) to firstperson@byu.edu. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, appropriateness, and clarity.

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