Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Know Thyself

It's no secret that I HATE being cold. Sure, the first big cold front of the year is exciting and novel and then I love getting out my cozy coat, making stew and banana bread for dinner, building a fire, and snuggling down into the couch with warm blankets and a mug of hot chocolate. But two or three "arctic blasts" later you are more likely to find me holed up in my house wearing my bathrobe and slippers over my clothes muttering about this "Damn cold weather. People aren't meant to live like this. If we were we'd all have fur. I freaking hate this stupid weather..." etc.

We had a pretty cold winter in the old town, but I am starting to realize that my understanding of cold weather there was analogous to the understanding a sixteen year old babysitter has of parenting. Sure you enjoy it and you might even be good at it, but in the end, when it gets tough, you can LEAVE. I'm starting to realize that my fond memories of childhood winters, playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, watching movies snuggled up as a family, were fond memories of CHILDHOOD and not fond memories of FREEZING MY ASS OFF IN THE SNOW. For example, I rarely look back fondly on the time I went out to the car to get my last dry pair of slippers (the other ones being wet after stepping in the puddle of water in the foyer left by our thawing mittens and boots) only to slip on the way back in and drop them into a slushy puddle. I was probably ten when that happened and I still remember the acute feeling of despair.

So it is only now, facing of a week of temperatures in the thirties, that I can let go of the "What might have been" fantasies I have held onto since we decided to move to South instead of Boston. The picture I have in my mind of living in Boston has no grounding in reality. We were going to live in the city. In my head it was going to be wonderful. We would take the boys sledding in the park! We would have cozy snow days inside with movies and blanket forts and baking! I pictured the warmly lit storefronts and windows around Cambridge (where we would live) and how much like a Christmas card it all seemed. I imagined the Boston described by my grandparents, who were living there when they met one another.

I did not anticipate having a toddler who NEEDS to run around outside every day. I did not think about the herculean effort required to get two squirmy boys into snowsuits and then down multiple flights of stairs into a stroller or the freezing walk to the store every single time we needed something. I pushed to the back of my mind my dad's warnings of weeks upon weeks of freezing cold rain, which would be even worse than snow. Somehow, I also forgot how cold and angry I always got waiting for the bus in the commuter parking lot at school. Or the time I thought I could hack a half-mile walk from my office to one of my classes in twenty degree weather with thirty mph wind. I could not. The friend I was walking with, who was from New Hampshire, walked casually, no hat, hands at his sides, keeping up his end of the conversation. I pulled my hood on over my hat, smushed my mitten-clad hands into my pockets, and tried to pull my head into my coat like a turtle. Talking was completely out of the question given I couldn't feel my face. Yes, I realize how ridiculous this makes me sound to my friends from Wisconsin and Minnesota and Michigan.

Which is exactly my point. I am not cut out for living in cold weather. South is the right place for us. It will be in the thirties this week, but next week it could be in the seventies! Our pool is open year round and I will never have to deal with snot frozen to a size 2T parka! Today we will cuddle up on the couch, tomorrow we will ride bikes in the culdesac! We don't need to rally a team of sled dogs should we need to run out for infant Tylenol at two o'clock in the morning!

Of course we are going to visit New England this summer and I am sure once I step out of the airport upon our arrival home I will be cursing summer and bemoaning the fact that we live in a place where they announce the number of consecutive hundred degree days on the evening news.


Anonymous said...

In my Boston fantasy, I always visualize myself living in Cambridge too.

AJU5's Mom said...

I like cold but not FREEZING (anything below 30 lets say). So, like you, I am happy I live were it doesn't get that cold (for more than a day or two at most). It is hard enough just getting a jacket on a toddling little one!

Kyla said...

You know, I love snow and the winter, but I, too, have some to the realization that living in the north wouldn't be perfect either. Now, in summer, it sure does seem like it would be!

Leslie said... I read this entry I am currently steeling myself for the very cold walk to the gym. My desktop weather thingy says it's 21 degrees. Honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the heat-stroke-inducing summers down there. Hubby disagrees. It all comes down to which you hate more- super cold winter or super hot summer. Or, if you can afford it, you can move to southern California.

Dr. Maureen said...

Let me cement your feelings for you: I just checked our porch thermometer, and it is about 23F. And it's not supposed to get cold till TOMORROW. (By which I do not mean that it got cold early; what I mean is that today is not cold compared to how cold it will be tomorrow.)

Also, if you lived in Cambridge - which would be cool and fun, don't get me wrong - you would have about 400 sq ft for about $1200/month. Or so.

I'm not saying I want to move or anything, I'm just saying that yeah, it sounds like you made the right choice!

Rima said...

Thanks for rubbing it in, man! We have two feet of snow here, and I'm trapped inside with a toddler and a sick pre-schooler!

Actually, I totally understand what you are saying here. I hate the winters more and more every year, but somehow I don't remember the sucky part of childhood winters. Probably because I never had to shovel the driveway or schlep from house to car with two screaming kids. Huh.

Sarah said...

Hi. It is -1 today. That's the high. The low? I don't think you could handle hearing it.

We run around indoor places, but Harry and Jack have not ventured out in this refreshing arctic air, that's for sure.

Stay warm!

Taylor and Leighton said...

Hey Becca you silly southerner! Just had to update you on the weather "Up Nort" here. Today we hit a record-three consecutive days of BELOW ZERO temps. We haven't done that since 1996.

With that said, we thoroughly enjoyed the couple days in shorts and t-shirts we had down there with "y'all" in Texas, but it's back to reality here-jeans, heavy socks, onesies (or undershirts for the adult crowd), long sleeved shirts and sweaters-just to stay warm in the house!

Stay warm! Tay, Lar, AJ

Anonymous said...

I'm always glad for the first cold front...and equally glad to greet the first day when we can open up the windows of the house and blow out the stale indoor air in April.

Steph said...

I don't think you're crazy or a wuss or anything; it all just depends on what you're used to! My cousin's kids from FL hate putting on a jacket when visiting MI, but Dorrie didn't seem to mind putting one on at all when I saw her a few weeks ago. The conditions where you live just become the norm, and everyone just adjusts, I guess. I still start sweating immediately if it's above 65 degrees, which is why I hibernate in the house from May to November.