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Baby, It's Cold Outside

I hate to state the obvious. But it is cold. Darn cold. It’s all I can think about or talk about. I’ve consumed more Swiss Miss hot chocolate in the past week than I have in the past five years combined. I no longer race directly to my computer to check email when I walk in the front door; I march straight to the stove and put water on, mittens and all. I’ve woken up to find curious windburn patches all over my face. And I’ve started a funny habit of jumping up and down like a maniac when waiting for traffic lights to change. It’s not a pretty sight.

But why this utter fascination and shock? As the New York Times reported this week, the weather (which, incidentally, made the front page) is not much more extremea than in years past. It’s just that in comparison to how unseasonably warm it’s been, it seems frighteningly cold.

I don’t buy it. Has my memory completely failed? Perhaps I’ve blocked out the chills that go right through my fleece/shearling coat combo, numbing me to the core? Maybe I’ve forgotten that my teeth can actually feel cold? That my hair freezes if not completely dry? But I don’t recall being this cold even while skiing let alone trudging across the river for “fun.” Okay, fine. Let’s say it really isn’t the coldest it’s ever been in my entire life. Who cares? It’s absolutely unbearable. I keep thinking back to when I moved to L.A. after college. I had mixed feelings about going.

But once I got there, I adjusted quite easily to the warm, balmy climate, to waking up and swimming laps outside before work, to playing in a tennis clinic outdoors throughout the winter, to hiking and going to Malibu on the weekends as my friends and family were bundling up back east.

Now, as I start evaluating my next location in life, I must say, the weather has to factor into the equation. Last year in Negotiations, we were taught to rank order our priorities for jobs (firm reputation, salary, job function, etc.). I move to add “weather” to the list. Would everyone still flock to New York if they thought rationally about the disgusting sweaty subways in the summer? Would classmates settle in London if they took stock of the incessant rain, fog and overall dreariness? And would anyone in their right mind stay in Boston knowing how completely frigid it can get? Perhaps this explains why I suddenly can’t stop longing for Sydney, Australia, where I’ve never been before, but have decided is my long lost home. Perhaps this elucidates my reasons for wanting to spend the summer in Los Angeles. And perhaps this explains why my previous “serious” location options (Boston, New York or Hanover, NH) now seem mighty unappealing. I have to keep reminding myself that the weather will improve. That the changing leaves in New England are some of the prettiest sights I’ve ever seen. That the first scent of spring air puts a permanent smile on my face. That the feeling of the warm summer sun, when it finally comes, feels earned, appreciated, and that much more luscious. That, although some places like L.A. are pleasant all the time, they lose all sense of character by remaining unchanged, season after season. But I also have to ask, is this weather worth it? So, as I dig deep into my ski bag to retrieve my last pair of long underwear just to walk to class, I try to remember that change is a good thing. And when that doesn’t work, I just think of Ernest Shackleton and his fellow voyagers in 1915 spending a year stranded on slabs of ice in Antarctica with nothing to eat but seal, and with no fleece in sight. And then I don’t feel so bad.

January 27, 2003
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