I come from a place where we can have easily 80ºF afternoons during that time of the year other places call “winter.” Seasons: those simply don’t happen where I’m from. In my hometown, we have a dry, hot-as-hell, seemingly endless period, followed by a rainy couple of months, followed by more heat, finally followed by two or three weeks of “cold” (40-60ºF).
Back there, trees normally keep their leaves all year long, flowers bloom any time, hummingbirds hum every single day, and the sun is rarely missed behind the clouds. But here, there are seasons, plural.
I arrived to Chicago at the end of last summer; my flight was short, less than four hours, and I was pretty sure Chicago felt hotter than Mexico City. But that didn’t last. A couple of weeks later, the weather started to change. In a few days more, it was, for me, suddenly winter — you know, around 60ºF, and colder mornings and nights.
I was so naive.
What I was experiencing was no winter at all: It turned to be something called “fall,” something I only knew about thanks to Nat King Cole’s “Autumn Leaves.” But sincerely, the song amuses me more than the cold wind hitting my face, and of course, from then on it just got worse.
I started to wrap myself up with more layers than I ever had before, and it was just early November; leaving my building in the morning felt like an insult to my wellness and health. Blasts of cold wind, colder than I’ve ever experienced, ran into my chest, and no matter how warm I was inside, the moment I stepped out the door I was helplessly freezing.
But that was just me being naive once more because soon I realized it was just the beginning.
I can’t imagine how it was living in Chicago before heating units were invented; seriously, I can’t.
As the year was ending, the temperature dropped so low it didn’t feel possible. I wished I was dead. That’s what people call winter.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Chicago’s winter. I’ve seen snow before, but never this much, and it’s just gorgeous. I spent several hours walking, filming, and photographing the icy landscape at the park near my place, even when it was snowing. Once while filming by the lake, a sudden blast of wind made a wave break right in front of me; I was soaked, and frozen — my hands were so cold that it was painful to carry my camera back, which by that moment had ice on it. But I regret nothing.
Over the winter break I went to Mexico, and it was chill the morning I arrived — chill for my former standards. I took a bus from Mexico City to my hometown, and there it was definitely warmer. Way warmer than the “almost spring” weather my cousin (Chicagoan) mentioned when I spent a weekend at her house a couple of weeks ago. Seriously, spring?
For me, spring is just an endless cold hell, and it will continue to be so until we hit 80ºF. For now, what people seem to think is spring looks to me as if the weather were a passive-aggressive lover that teases you with warmth one day just to let it snow the next one.
This whole thing has amused me so much I even started to work on a story (maybe a novel, who knows?) in which the main character’s goal is to survive winter by generating corporal heat that he obtains through masturbation. Speaking of spring fever.
As spring approaches and temperatures go up (not enough of course), I just sit in front of my window, from which I can see a park with leafless trees and the yellowish grass, and I wonder: is this spring?
It seems to be so, and while I loved winter, with its strange minimalist beauty, here it lasts too long. Unfortunately for me, it’ll last a little longer, but watching the green of trees come back and flowers bloom again, something I’ve never seen before, will be definitely worth it.