Thursday, February 6, 2014

Read My Face

It strikes me as a little funny that I made the decision to write everyday in November, while celebrating my birthday on a trip to San Diego, with sun and friends and plenty of writing ideas jumping through my head. I could not realize, of course, that the most unrelentingly harsh winter I can remember since childhood would descend a few weeks later once I was back home. Being a shut-in is not conducive for storytelling, as one can only write so much about how cold they are, or what's happening in their home, or what is going on in their own brain, before author and reader begin to feel claustrophobic.

This morning I did get out, though, to the Magnificent Mile here in Chicago, so that I could see my dentist and get a mold made for a new crown. Between the proximity to the lake and the wind tunnels created by the skyscrapers, the glorious Gold Coast is not for the faint of heart when the windchill is already in the negative twenties. If you'd like to recreate this feeling at home, take all your knives, put them in the freezer, and when they are too cold to really handle, start stabbing yourself in the face.

Everywhere I looked today, the same expressions hung on the faces I saw. It was utter weariness, psychic exhaustion worn into eyes peeking out from scarves, mixed with pangs of physical pain. Indoors, as our heavy outdoor layers were stripped and hung around our necks like a trapper hauling pelts, you could hear the sighs. The resignation. The sheer "enough of this already" that seemed to come out with a hiss of air past tightened shoulders and a furrowed brow.

Even the majority of folks who profess to love winter, love snow, and love the cold seem to have had it. Conversations today included, "I don't want to shovel anymore," "It's never warm enough to enjoy the snow, it's so cold it hurts," and "I'd think this was prettier if everything wasn't covered in dirty slush."

For goodness sake, the eleventh story of the high-rise parking garage I used today had snowdrifts in it. The eleventh story! Doesn't that say it all? Even the parking garage is over this.

Instead of heading right back to the car after my dental appointment, I took the elevator up a floor to the Red Door Spa, asked if they had in any walk-ins available, and got myself an overpriced deep tissue massage. If this winter is going to keep beating us up, at least I'm going to get some of that stress rubbed out.

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