I recently returned to Chicago after living in San Diego for three years. Like most people, my initial excitement upon moving there was for the consistent weather: I could always count on it being sunny, I could save on money by wearing the same clothes all year long, and a temperature swing of 10 degrees was considered a really big deal. What I didn’t count on were the ways this good weather actually worked against me.
1 – Constant good weather bored me. About three months after moving there, the appeal of a gorgeous sunny day was completely lost on me. I stopped seeing it as special and just expected it, and instead of taking advantage of these nice days and going for a hike or to the beach, I started wishing for just thirty minutes of rain so I could clean my apartment without feeling guilty for being inside. I got stuck in a routine and stopped exploring because I just didn’t have the sense of excitement and urgency that Chicagoans have in summer.
2 – There was no way to measure progress throughout the year. As a teacher, when I was in Chicago I especially appreciated the slowly increasing temps of springtime and the longer, brighter days since they meant that summer break was on its way. But when the San Diegan June felt an awful lot like February did, it felt like there was nothing to get excited about. And especially when I taught that unit on existentialism, the consistency of the weather felt eerily similar to some kind of Groundhog Day experience where I was just doomed to repeat the same thing over and over again until I completely reached bottom. Yikes.
3 – I lost a connection with the rest of the country. When in the winter months the news would show winter storms or devastating floods elsewhere in the U.S., my first thoughts weren’t ones of empathy or compassion, but instead a reminder of “huh, it’s cold there now” or “why would those people choose to live there?” This was one of the most alarming changes I noticed and definitely the most insidious.
4 – I lost my grit. People who know me might laugh because I’m not exactly the most tenacious person, but I was the type who would shovel my car out of 18 inches of snow at 5 a.m. to get to work on time, and when a violent thunderstorm swept through just before my wedding rehearsal, I was still there right on time and didn’t even care that I was drenched. But suddenly, I found myself saying things like I only wanted to go to the beach if it was between 75 and 81 degrees outside, and on the one day it actually rained in 2015 I cancelled plans to meet a friend for a drink because I just really didn’t feel like getting on the highway. Embarrassing.
There are a few more quirks and issues that came along with the dependably good weather, but these were the four major ones. My hope is in making this list, I will have reminders of some of the benefits to my character that the upcoming winter will have. I will remind myself to appreciate the opportunity to cuddle up at home with my husband and son where we can read a book or build a fort; to make a really heavy, soul-satisfying dinner; to watch football all day without feeling guilty; to wear comfortable and soft winter clothing; and to live in a place where people truly want to be because of their work, the culture, their family—not just because they’re pleased with how many days a year the sun peaks out.
And on the really bad days, I can always board a plane and visit my friends in San Diego—have you heard how nice the weather is there?!
And tell me, what are some other perks to living with an ever-changing climate?
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