I picked up a puffy vest at Costco, a long sleeve and flannel shirt because the time for layering is coming sooner than I wish.
Walking through the aisles I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said Wawasee on it but didn’t stop to ask if it was a reference to a lake in Indiana.
Walked through the aisles with a purpose and thought the stories my mom used to tell me about putting away her summer clothes because winter was coming.
I was a California kid and though I knew she wasn’t making it up those stories about preparing for Chicago winters never made sense to me.
Seemed silly to have two sets of clothes, especially for someone like me who lived in tank tops, t-shirts and shorts year round.
It wasn’t until I went to Buffalo and Toronto during the winter of ’85 that I really understood what a heavier snowfall meant.
Couldn’t really blame me, I had been in the snow a handful of times before that, no more than four and maybe as little as three in 16 years.
Snow was something other people lived in and dealt with. Didn’t matter that Dad had spent a chunk of time living in Chicago and Pittsburgh because he had been born in LA just like me.
That made him a Californian in my eyes and since mom and all of my grandparents had lived in LA since before I was born they were Californians too.
The Intimacy Of Winter
Thirty-six years later I have had enough experience with the intimacy of winter to know it in ways I never expected to growing up..
I have been chest deep in snow, shoveled driveways and dealt with ice and all sorts of other elements that come with it.
Those who grew up and lived in the snow belt or places like it tell me I don’t really get it. They say the snow we got here during Snowmageddon 2021 was a dusting but I don’t care.
It was enough to cause trouble because the metroplex isn’t built for handling that kind of dusting of snow.
For several days we dealt with a failing power grid, roads that were dangerous and assorted challenges that came with a city that was unprepared.
I have picked up a few items since then and filed away a few tricks for the next time…just in case.
There are layers inside my head that I can draw upon as needed. Layers of thoughts, ideas and information that apply to both common and uncommon circumstances and situations.
Should I need to shovel the driveway and clear paths or find alternatives for ice melt I have resources I didn’t have the last time.
Regardless of whether we see that kind of snow again there is no doubt the days of endless heat are leaving for a while.
In return we’ll see cold that feels more bitter because it is a dampness that settles into your bones.
So the ability to layer is more important because I get out and about regardless of weather.
Sunshine, rain, ice or sleet…it makes no difference as there are times when I am out in it.
I may not enjoy it, but I rarely let the weather stop me from taking care of my responsibilities. It only comes if safety is a real and pressing issue.
My bloodline is more than just desert people, it contains ample history of ancestry that lived through the harsher winters.
If they could do it than so can I.
There is a letter to my left reminding me to set up an appointment with one doc and a Post-it saying to schedule lab tests for something else.
There is a shirt to my right that didn’t fit well a short while ago but feels a tick more comfortable now.
Treadmill in eye shot, weights and a few other items alongside a prescription that I have to consider refilling.
A fire is burning in my belly alongside a war between heart and head. You can describe it as a fight between what I feel and what I can see.
What I know in my gut measured against what I can quantify using metrics that prove certain things.
Echoes of voices saying if you can’t quantify and measure it you cannot trust nor prove it balanced against that gut feeling.
The one that says sometimes you have to trust what you can’t see, taste or touch but feel.
It is a hard place to be because in some ways the lack of that hard data makes you feel like you are up against it.
Except when I look back at the last five years and review it is clear that tremendous progress has been made.
Exponential growth in some areas and that has come with a cost that has yet to be paid but will be.
Sometimes I think about whether I would really go back and do it differently because it is painful to admit I would.
But I can’t lie about it, can’t pretend that I would do it the same because I wouldn’t.
Doesn’t matter because I can’t go back but I don’t have to lie to myself or to others about it.
I don’t wear a sweater when you are cold or layer because it makes you feel better.
Man asks if I think I am a doctor with a law degree but I don’t answer because there is no reason to engage.
It won’t matter what I say because he is determined to live in his own echo chamber.
Later I’ll speak with my son about it and tell him I could be both a doctor and a lawyer.
“Are you referring to when you were younger?”
“No, I am talking about now. If I want it I can make it happen…even now. It is not out of reach. The question isn’t whether I am capable because I am.
The material isn’t beyond me. It is a question of interest and desire alongside a willingness to put in the work.
If you want it, you can have it but only if you are willing to do the work.”
The house is cool enough there is no reason to run the air all night so I have turned off the A/C.
If nothing changes the heat will come back around and I’ll have need to turn it on again but the days are numbered.
Won’t be long before it is time for layers again and I’ll look forward to the days in which shorts and t-shirts will be my preference for outdoor wear.
But not yet…not yet.