It is 11am. It seems about time to move from the desk chair to another room in the house. Maybe I will wander to the laundry room and look at the pile of sweaters waiting for my attention. Perhaps I will think of someone to call. Maybe I will wash the kitchen floor, or maybe I will pretend I intend to wash the kitchen floor and end up perusing the pantry for snacks instead.
Those of us who live isolated lives have different ways of organizing our time. This is never so true as during the winter.
The weather is colder, the days are shorter, the light coming through the window behind my desk is dimmer and it is hard to get anything done.
And this is Texas.
I find myself marveling at friends and family who recently experienced the bomb cyclone on the east coast.
The name conjures terrible images of churning frozen winter debris. Yet people I know and love have been bundling up in multiple layers and heading out of their warm homes to navigate glacial streets for weeks. They numbingly climb up and down New York subway station steps and intrepidly drive their frigid cars.
I feel kind of spoiled being unable to be productive because of dim non-inspiring light when I can still go outside without wearing a hat.
I used to live in Boston. I used to live in a fourth floor walk-up apartment in Boston. In the winter. The only way to do laundry was to load up my big bag of dirty clothes, drag it down those four flights and slide with it down the street over treacherous ice to reach the closest laundromat. It was a cold and unpleasant ordeal.
Even further back I was a college student in upstate New York. It was frequently so cold, the inside of my nose would freeze within 15 seconds of stepping outside. I used to get to class following strategic routes through campus buildings. Students rendered entirely unrecognizable by multiple layers of bulky outerwear would pass each other anonymously as we travelled through buildings in our quest for warmth.
Texas is supposed to be a frontier for character toughness and individualism.
But frankly, it has made me kind of a winter wimp.
I huddle in the house wearing two sweaters, fuzzy polka-dotted socks and warm slippers. It is frankly embarrassing to be thinking of putting on gloves in my living room while talking on the phone with my 86 year old mother-in-law. Especially when she is telling me she has just come back from driving to the local store in New York to pick up a newspaper in the 10 degree temperature. I called her to make sure she was doing okay in the bomb cyclone. I wanted to ask if she was also wearing fuzzy socks, but was too afraid to find out she was walking around her own house with bare feet.
When I first moved here to this frontier town, I used to be a summer wimp.
That first summer, in 1987, I was hugely pregnant with my first child. Being a native of the northeast I had never imagined such overwhelming oven-like heat. I vowed to never go outside. It wasn’t until several summers had passed that I realized the astounding truth that Texas summer days did not cool down after 3pm like the summer days of my childhood. Here it just got continuously hotter until an hour after the sun had finally set.
I learned to savor those brief moments of comfortable body temperature when walking through the doors of the supermarket. There would be an “Ahhhh” feeling of leaving the 105 degree heat outside and entering the cool sterile world of Tom Thumb. By the time I was done shopping I would be frozen by air conditioning and I experienced the “Ahhhh” of heating up again for ten seconds as I left. And then I would have to come home with the groceries, emptying them from the trunk of my car in the garage, which I am pretty sure is the hottest place on earth.
Texas has made me a summer wimp and a winter wimp.
I figure I am now only at a comfortable temperature for about four weeks a year. Two weeks in late October, and then two more weeks in May.
Of course sometimes it is windy or rainy.
Then I have to stay inside. Because I am a wind and rain wimp as well.