Wintertime Woes

by Mary S

When my friends from high school moved to the East Coast for college, they were most horrified by winter. “Why did people settle there?” My friend once asked when discussing New York. “It’s uninhabitable!”

It’s not that my hometown, San Francisco, is the tropical paradise people assume of a California locale. Perpetually autumn-temperature, SF experiences a winter rainy season and brief Indian summer and lots of low-lying fog. As a kid, my East Coast-born mother always expressed sadness at my lack of familiarity with the real seasons; I have no happy childhood memories of sledding or warm, lazy summer evenings. As a result, I’ve become fascinated with the summer hang-out culture of native New Yorkers, especially the people who turn up their car radios, leave the doors open, and sit outsideon folding chairs and front stoops, hanging out. Even during the cloyingly hot summer months of 2011, being outside felt like a bit of a party. 

And it’s the same city it was, but now everything has become a grim, icy sludge. Though I can appreciate the quiet beauty of a snowfall as much as anyone, the sense of wonder quickly fades when the snow pile turns chunky and gray, littered with discarded White Castle containers and dog crap. People certainly don’t hang out anymore, they hurry by, hunched over and set on going somewhere warm. I have also been unsuccessful in carrying on with the look of my summer fashion inspirations, Kelly Bundy and Patricia Arquette in True Romance, whose mini skirts and large plastic earrings don’t really work in freezing temperatures. And one needn’t look at the window to know the vibrant onesies of summer have been traded for parkas and lumpen layers. This winter marked the first time I stepped into an REI store. (On the plus side, street harassment’s definitely down!)

In conclusion, it’s not like I’m the first to realize that there’s a big difference between the seasons and the feelings they inspire in us all. There are plenty of songs, for instance, about the sexy fun, fun, fun of long hot days and the gentle solitude of snowy nights. But experiencing them for the first time in full is kinda surreal; I keep asking people inane questions like, “When does winter end?” and “Is today a ‘snow day?'” I admire those who are able to deal seamlessly with the seasons and experience no discomfort wearing leggings under their jeans. Perhaps one day I will be one of them!


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