It seems since I've moved to Chicago, there isn't a single person that will allow me to escape the weather question. It was the only thing holding me back while I sat on the idea of moving here for years. Can I handle the weather? Can my southern disposition take the harshest of winds?
During the initial polar vortex onslaught, it was reported that Chicago was colder than the arctic. I saw a man walking backwards into the wind on the first day that wind chills were predicted to reach - 40. He was wearing a light jacket and a small scarf. I was sitting in a car with the heat blasting, wearing a semi-sleeping bag with thick mittens, wool socks, wool pants, and snow boots. My feet and nose were still cold. The man made eye contact with me. His face was red, and his eyelashes were white with frost.
|Linus likes the ice...unless there's salt on it. Then it hurts. :(|
When I walk from my house to the gym with a bottle of water, my water is deliciously ice cold when I get to my destination. Chocolate is rock hard after a walk from Walgreens to the train. If I happen to be running late for something (usually), and my hair is wet from a shower, my hair will freeze into stiff sections, but, sadly, it does not create an edgy style.
Those of us who choose to live in the windy city are, for all intents and purposes, living in a freezer; although, my freezer usually feels warm when I first get home.
BUT: It's not unbearable.
I KNOW. I sound insane. However, I'm speaking the truth. If it were unbearable, Chicago wouldn't be such a booming metropolis. It's a global city, a living city. It breathes, has a pulse.
|A shaky view from the top of Willis Tower|
I remember talking with some former Chicago residents at the winery at Montaluce in Dahlonega a few years ago. We were sitting on the patio that overlooked the breathtaking vineyards, sipping prosecco and eating cheese. It was early fall, and it was warm. If you've ever been in a situation like that, you might have found it hard to say anything negative about anything. My new friends were bubbling over about their time in Chicago, missing it whilst enjoying their current situation. The only thing I could think to say, you can probably guess, was, "but it gets so cold there." Their response was immediate and closed ended: You acclimate. They weren't trying to convince me to move here. They weren't trying to defend their love of a city that, frankly, needs no defense. It was a matter of fact response, and it was the truth.
If the only thing holding you back from living in a place like Chicago is the weather, let it go. The reality of...I don't know...EVERYTHING....is that weather is inconsequential. The real adversity we face is inside, and if we can't stand up to our own demons, even Hawaii wouldn't be enough to make us happy...although it would be freaking awesome.
From the winds, the arctic winds, and the blustery snow storms that I've now witnessed AND survived, I have gained much. For one, I have gained a little perspective. You have no idea how awesome 34 degrees feels after forty below. Everyone in this glorious city sees a weather forecast slightly above freezing with sunshine and starts planning a picnic.
|The sun and the snow make a lovely combination.|
And that's a life lesson, my friends. The harder it is and the lower you get, the better it feels on the other side. No one that lives here really talks much about the weather. We may laugh to each other when the cold gets ridiculous. We may part ways by exchanging the words, "stay warm." We may walk down the streets grimacing with our heads down, but we know that there's a bottle of wine at the other end of that walk and, hopefully, a warm body to greet us.
|The adorable warm body that greets me.|
Talking about the weather, historically, has been a way to avoid talking about the things that really matter. When you talk to your friends about what's really going on in your life, you have to be vulnerable, and you have to open yourself up to the possibility that some people may be able to see you for what you really are: a human being. Here, the weather speaks for itself and allows the rest of us to focus on the things that really matter. What really matters?
I met a girl last weekend from Aruba...ARUBA. It's the first place the Beach Boys mention in the 80's hit "Kokomo." She loves living in Chicago. We briefly touched on the subject of the extreme cold, and her only words were, "I'm from Aruba, and I'm fine here."
I'm from the south, the deep south, and I'm fine. I'm better than fine. I also have a greater appreciation for wine...especially the warm, full-bodied redsmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.