The sun was out last week. It’s February 1, and I came thiiiiiis close to putting my coats away. Like away away, in a box labeled “seasonal” so I could shove them behind that box of VHS tapes that I still can’t part with even though we don’t have a VCR. (What tapes are those you wonder? I’m glad I assumed you asked, The Wedding Singer, She’s All That starring Freddie Prinze Jr., LA Confidential, the two-tape set of Titanic, and every episode of Twin Peaks,…of course.)
This weather hiccup is an annual occurrence in California. There are a few days every winter that are a total tease – where you get sunshine and warmth and those precious opportunities to push the button in the car that says “AC.”
Then of course, it rained this weekend. I was working on the church patio signing folks up for this and that, and trying to cheerfully answer questions while futilely attempting to convince Zach that animal crackers are in fact cookies, and not crackers.
My darling husband, on his way into church at the crack of dawn, and on his birthday no less, called to let me know that it was raining, and I should dress accordingly – he’s good that way. So, I brought my rain coat. It’s not a fancy church rain coat, with a belt and adorable buttons. It’s a legit waterproof raincoat meant for outdoorsy people (hey, I know some outdoorsy people), with a hood that was built to cover my entire head. It also has HyVent, which I assume is revolutionary coat technology invented in a lab complete with a mock church patio where they create multiple weather scenarios, specifically to keep me comfortable in inclement outdoor greeting situations.
So there I stood, saying hello to the scores of people streaming by, and apparently opening myself open for all kinds of comments about the sturdiness of my gear, my favorite being, “Wow, you look ready for anything!” Oh, if only that were the case.
Just know that I know that if you actually live in a place where inclement weather conditions like, snow, and sleet and ice are a way of life – you are a stud. In fact the weather headlines for the past few days have included the word “bracing.” When you are bracing yourself for something, it’s usually not good. I can’t say that I was bracing myself for the intermittent showers over the weekend.
I know you have to shovel to get to your car and go the store, and factor in wind chill. I married into a snow dwelling family, I’ve seen this lifestyle in action. I’ve been at their house when snow has collapsed through the skylight, and when you have to cover every inch of skin just to go to the car. I’m guessing though, I was insufferable, asking everybody I came in contact with if they knew that it was 20 below, reminding them I was from California and adorably new to this. I of course called my parents to report the temperature and the the good news that, in spite of the catastrophic sounding temperature, I had in fact, survived the day.
Today, more than a 1/3 of the country will get a snow day, and you might be one of them. I know you have snowblowers and bigger jackets and warmer boots and shovels and scrapers. Good for you! And I mean that in a serious, non-smart-alecky way. Snow and ice living is hard, and treacherous. I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due…and it is due to you, my tougher, less whiny, and far hardier friends. I totally own my weather wussiness.
I love the sun. I looooooooove it. I am super pale and freckly and should relish in the fog and the cold, like I’m sure my ancestors did. But no. I found myself driving to lunch the other day in a particularly chipper mood, ready to treat myself to some flame broiled goodness simply because the sun was out and it made me happy. The music was loud and poppy, and I was smiling like an idiot, and thinking about maybe, just maybe, sticking my head out the window for a moment while I drove. I wanted to create a Twitter account in the drive-thru, just so I could tweet about it.
I like to think I was built for sunshine, because I know what happens when I’m deprived of it. The day that John and I moved to San Francisco, nearly 15 years ago, we were newlyweds. We’d driven a U-Haul up from LA with a couple of annoyed cats in a carrier and our buddy, Bouncer (that’s his name, not something we moved with – though it sounds fun when you take out the comma – “hey look, buddy bouncers are on sale!”) It was August, so I thought my choice of tank top and shorts was a reasonable one. But there I stood in the back of the moving truck, at 4:00 in the afternoon, guarding our 1970’s oversized wicker Gilligan’s Island style chair, shivering and wondering what exactly we’d gotten ourselves into.
That’s the day I knew that things were about to change. Sure, new hubby, new job, new friends, yada yada, but oh my, it was gong to be cold here.
Our first nights in the City, we walked through the fog to get pizza, Chinese food, tacos, and even Pierogi. The foghorns were loud, and ok, maybe a little romantic, but our apartment was terribly damp and comically cold. In the morning, you could see your breath inside, and it was always wise to wear a second sweatshirt for lounging. Years later when the walls kind of started to fall apart, we found that the building had been insulated with newspapers from the 1940’s. But that was part of the undeniable charm of the place, and most certainly the source of the mold that had grown in our suitcases.
There were more than a few days where I’d be headed home on the 38 Geary bus, squished in the aisle or trying to keep my face away from the rear end of the stranger standing at my side who was holding the rail above my head. It would be gorgeous outside, but ahead I could see the bank of fog starting to creep in, and I could point at it and glumly say, “See that cloud? That cartoony looking grey mass? That’s where I live.”
We eventually moved to Marin County, and while John mourned the loss of his precious fog, I would have a dizzying sense of euphoria as we drove home across the Golden Gate Bridge each evening, leaving the grey of our old neighborhood behind for the much more hospitable sunshine. Did you know that Seasonal Affective Disorder is for real? It is. I was suddenly ready to go do things! To go outside! I think I may have even suggested we go on a walk once!
And though talking about the weather is a clichéd cop out for a discussion topic, we are all fascinated, because the freaking weather can easily determine the content of our day. We talk about it for a few reasons – a) it’s kind of a big deal, b) it’s also truly sometimes the only thing we have in common with the person we are talking to c) it’s often the one science any of us have any working knowledge of and d) we have absolutely no control over it, which is where it gets exciting. I have at least three weather related apps on my phone, and during most months, I’m usually just bracing myself for temps in the low to mid ‘60s.
I’m thinking of you my wonderful snow bound, ice bound, blizzardy friends who get out of school today, or have just spent the morning digging out your car. I know that wherever you are, you probably look like you are ready for anything.