I don’t mean to brag, but I’m getting the fuck out of here this winter. It’s a good thing, because the mood that I am in today (November 12), when it is 20 degrees and there is a slip-slidey skating rink outside my door and I have no iceskates, is what you might generously describe as grumpy. More accurately, I’m annoyed and disgruntled. Just call me Crankypants Bitchface. At least my earrings are nice.
I’ve been listening to people complain about the weather ever since I moved to Minnesota, and I’ve often thought condescendingly, well, if you’re going to complain, why don’t you just move? That was when I was in college, and was only required to skip smugly across a tiny campus, much of which was linked by skyways; trundle back and forth from the grocery store every few weeks, many times by car; and drink big, foamy cups of hot chocolate in the cuddly comfort of the brightly lit student center under the pretense of “studying” but actually just talking with my friends. This isn’t meant to sound like some “good old days” college post, but the romance of Midwest winter faded faster than its fleeting summer when I graduated, started taking the bus and walking everywhere, and realized that no matter how many times I walked it in July, a route feels completely alien when it isn’t shoveled.
I seem to be getting sadder earlier every winter. I don’t think it’s a sunshine thing; the snow-glinty sun shone blindingly for days last winter, but with the temperatures as cold as they were, walking anywhere was miserable, and I had to walk everywhere. The other option is staying home, which tends to work until January (though with winter coming in November this year, who knows how much earlier that will be), when I can’t take the feeling of my empty but crowded apartment any more and I venture out anyway, with little thought to the weather or my footware. It was during one of those periods last year, when I stopped on my way home from work in the throes of a snowstorm, and drank a few beers and read something really pretentious while drifts piled up outside and the bar emptied around me. I was congratulating myself on the romance of it all, until I realized the buses weren’t running and I needed my GPS to walk home. I should have called a taxi, but my stubbornness sent me face first into the sharp, flying snow and angry wind. I thought I had something to prove, but the only thing I proved was that no, my BrailleNote was not waterproof, even in its case, and using it for only a few seconds to check the GPS could indeed mandate a three-month repair and 5000 dollars.
Around April, when it was still cold, still snowing, and I still felt like crying several times a day, I started teasing myself with the idea that I didn’t have to prove anything any more. Not to anyone, and especially not to myself.
Last spring, the full weight of the importance of writing in my life started to shape itself into something large enough that I could no longer ignore it in favor of something more “practical.” The huge relief of coming spring mixed sourly with the dread of another winter. I’m just going to say, it’s really time to do something when you realize that your enjoyment of now is being compromised by your dread of something yet to come. If I couldn’t enjoy summer because of next winter, why was I still here?
So this year, I’m leaving. At any given time, I don’t know which I crave more, constancy or change, certainty or adventure. Maybe this move will tell me which, once and for all, but probably not. It will probably just tell me whether I enjoy a rainy winter more or less than a snowy one. And in the meantime, Crankypants Bitchface and her earrings will still be around until January. Better not tell me to “smile, baby” if you aren’t expecting me to throw snowballs at you. Or, if you’re outside my apartment, iceballs. Don’t say I never warned you.