Anita Mechler: In Defiance of Winter

Dear (this year’s) Chicago winter,

First things first: Fuck you. Like almost every other human being in a 100-mile radius, I’m so sick of you. Go back to the arctic from whence you came. I heard they miss you up there. It’s times like these that cause me to reflect: Has it always been this bad? Am I simply getting older and crankier? Am I officially sick of living here? Is it time to do the unholiest of unholy actions and move to Southern California?

I remember my first winter here fondly. It was only 14 short years ago that I came to town, a comically-overdressed young Texan, bright-eyed and excited for my next adventure in life. Luckily, no one laughed at me for my tiresome wardrobe of 3 scarves and 2 hats and 5 sweaters but I’m sure it was exhausting to watch me undress and redress before and after every class. I hadn’t quite learned the efficient way of dressing we call “layering”, but damnit if I wasn’t prepared for the worst winter could bring me. I knew how serious Chicagoans were about winter when I was forced to attend a final in the middle of a blizzard. I took it all in a bemused stride.

It puzzled me when I would see people only wearing jeans and tennis shoes, not wearing a hat or scarf or even gloves and barely a thin wool peacoat for cover. When I remarked to a college chum that his attire was more appropriate for Spring he replied, “I know, but I’m dragging that bitch out by her hair.” At the time, I was surprised by his vitriol, but today, I understand his angst and will for survival wholeheartedly.

I also remember the first time a brilliantly sunny winter day tricked me. I could see the sun cheerfully forcing its way through the blinds of my dorm room and I was so happy to be alive and go outside to breathe in the fresh crisp air. After an hour of dressing myself, I promptly fell down an entire flight of iced stairs, on my ass. I laughed, dusted myself off, and went my merry way.

Since then, I have reveled in Chicago’s winters. When locals began to grumble at the first sight of a flurry, I would say, much to their annoyance, “But the snow is so pretty!” or “I don’t mind it as long as it’s sunny once in a while!” or “I even ride my bike in it!” Over the years, I mastered the art of efficient layering, I gave into the fact that I’d probably fall on my ass at least once a winter, I learned how to detect black ice, and most importantly, I finally gave into buying real snow boots, cuteness and budget be damned. For the first time in my life, I was able to enjoy urban winter sports: mass snowball fights in Wicker Park, sledding down the hill at Halsted and 29th, snow angels anytime anywhere to my heart’s content, and going to buy milk during Snowmageddon 2011.

But this year, this year my spirit has been broken. This year I join the grumblers, the depressed, the slovenly, the drunks, the hibernating, and the desperate. I’ve been beaten down by the subzero temps and constant snowing, snowing, snowing. I no longer experience joy at the sight of those sparkling crystalline forms. I am relentlessly disheartened at the sight of huge slush puddles at the corner of every intersection. I curse the lives and families of those people who don’t shovel or salt their sidewalks. I’m insanely jealous of people with cars, trips to warmer climates, and those who have the balls to still ride their bikes in this. This year, more than usual, I hate it when someone sits next to me on the subway all puffy coat and elbows and I hate the smell of their hot breath filling the already suffocating air around me. I no longer marvel at the size of massive icicles, I just wish for one to fall from a skyscraper, pierce my skull, and put me quickly out of my misery.

I hold on to the few joys I have: a radiator-heated apartment, my cat cuddling me, whiskey, and the fact that the night sky is brighter and brighter every day closer to the advent of Spring. But, until then, I will curse you every day and pray for your demise. Someone buy me a freaking plane ticket to LA.



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