Weather With You I have become a weather wimp out here in LA. Last week, the temperature dropped down into the fifties (forty at night), and I layered fleece and sweatshirts and wore a knit cap. However, I was not as extreme as some people wearing long winter coats and those Eskimo boots that are soooo in.
One of my co-workers, wearing a flannel shirt, came in one day and said:
‘Wooo, it's chilly out there. . .but who am I to talk. This is nothing like back east." He did one final shiver for emphasis.
Back east. Back east, the people are hardy and thick-skinned. They are survivors. They can deal with freezing temperatures. They laugh at the cold and continue on their way.
The weather is why I came out here in the first place. I came out here to throw out my turtle necks and walk along the beach in February. I came out here so I would never have to brush snow off cars or try to find two gloves in a pair or stomp snow off my boots.
I remember the moment I decided to leave New York and move to Los Angeles. It was a cold December night in 2001 in the city, and the cold wind was piercing through my leather jacket. The tip of my nose was an icicle, and my eyes were watery. I was fumbling with my keys to get into my house---then up the stairs to my apartment with the radiator hissing, and I would tear off my coat and all the layers and put on comfy sweats and drink hot tea. But before I could enter that shoebox tropical paradise, I had to find the right little key for the building. On any other night, that would be easy. On this night, I was shivering and didn't want to take off my gloves. Then of course, I dropped the whole key ring which made a nice jingling sound as it slammed onto the sidewalk (which of course was cold, everything was cold that night). I picked up the keys.
‘Fuck this cold' I said outloud. And in that moment, I realized I had had enough of winter. Thirteen years in New York. Ten years in Cleveland. Before that, Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island. I was through. It was time to leave. It was time to go to Los Angeles. Sure it was the land of earthquakes, mudslides, flooding, wild fires, riots, the Hollywood industry monster, and bad public transportation. Sure I would be leaving the center of culture, literature, theater, ideas. Sure I would be leaving the greatest city on the planet, Lady Liberty, my friends and drinking buddies, the subway, Riverside Park, and the deli. But at the end of the day, the only thing that mattered was that I was cold and wanted to go to a place where I wouldn't be cold.
Now, don't get me wrong, I like a little chill in the air. But when it's a cold, a real cold, that freezes everything and you feel a hundred needles picking at your exposed skin and your muscles ache because you are tensing them against the cold. Well, that's too darn cold for me.
Then there's all the cold weather stuff. The long underwear, the hats, scarves, bulky winter coats, and all the layers. Then there's the ice, the puddles of slush, the black snow. And the sound of the plows scraping against the street. And the big orange salt trucks. Enough I say!
On Sunday, January 18th, I was shoe shopping. A woman in the next aisle suddenly exclaimed, "I can't believe it! I can wear open toe shoes in January!"
She went on to explain that she was from Back East as I noticed that yes, I was wearing open toe shoes. How about that. Open toe shoes in January without a second thought. Have I gone totally Californian? Then I realized that half the world is in summer in January, so open toe shoes in January is not that big a deal in the global sense. Also, the Lady from Back East was having an epiphany over shoe styles, but that was okay because we were in a shoe store. I found a really cute pair of close-toe sling backs, and that makes me giddy in a girlie way. They are so cute! I wear them while walking round the room singing Stormy Weather at 57 Mt. Pleasant Street. It's the same room, but everything's different. You can fight the sleep but not the dream.