Thursday, February 13, 2014

But Today, We Got to 30

Winter on California Avenue
To say this has been a rough winter is to grossly underestimate. The Chicago Tribune ranks it as #13 on a list of lowest temperature seasons in Chicago. Considering this list includes winters as far back as 1886, I think it gives us ample cause to say: It’s been really fucking cold.

One afternoon in January while I was working from home, my furnace started to crap out. As I waited for my landlord to show up, I shivered in front of my space heater, wearing a scarf, fingerless gloves, and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. I felt so ridiculous I wanted to laugh, but I was too cold to laugh. I thought of Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Long Winter and told myself it wasn’t so bad. After all, it’s not like the snow was making my eyeballs bleed; I hadn’t been house-bound for months, I had just been sitting in my until-then warm-ass apartment watching Bob’s Burgers with a cat on my lap. Things weren’t really all that bad.

Yet I still keep finding much to complain about, if only in my thoughts, to myself. Like the evening the 66 bus was delayed and I waited for 20 minutes at the bus stop, the cold shooting needles of pain through my toes and fingers. Or how every time I’ve had to do laundry since before Christmas, I fear my death from the climb up and down to the basement on the steep ice- and snow-covered stairs. Or the mornings the thought of putting on all those layers, yet again, and stepping outside to start my commute made me feel so despondent that I stayed in bed for a full extra hour than I should have.

I try not to complain, because again, it’s really not that bad, right? I have heat and a home and all those layers to keep putting on, morning after morning. I have enough hot tea to last for months. And I can almost always afford to add one more bottle of wine to the shopping cart (it helps when it’s $3 Winking Owl from Aldi). Last week, leaving the bar with a friend, we got in a snowball fight. One snowball smacked me in the ear, and slid down my neck below my scarf, but I was so flushed from laughing that the cold felt good. Yeah, it’s not all that bad.

Today, the temperature made it all the way to 30 degrees. I forgot my hat, and I was okay! It was utter madness. I missed my first bus leaving work, but in the four-and-a-half minutes waiting for the next one, at no point did I feel murderous from the cold. I came home, and made enough pasta to feed myself for the rest of February. I had to do laundry again. My steps are still so covered in snow and a thin sheet of ice that I probably should have just luged down to the basement. But I made it down, one small step after another; and up, one hesitant step after another.

As I walked back up the steps the last time, clutching my laundry basket, the neighbor’s dog jumped at the fence, barking at me like always. I almost lost my balance, but I didn’t fall. Beau, the dog, continued to bark.

I grinned back at him. After all, my bathroom is inside. And so is my wine. Ha, ha, I win this round, Beau.

Every day I don’t fall down in this ice and snow and slush and shit is like a gift. And the bus always shows up eventually.

Today, we made it to 30. Spring awaits. We can do this.

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