Cold Wars

According to The Weather Channel, the air temperature right now is -5° Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -22°. Damn cold, but not unheard of for Minnesota in late January into early February. So when I see my friends in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida complaining about having to find a sweater, or even having to shovel through some snow or chisel some ice, I must confess, I do chuckle to myself a bit.

In 1996, upon having almost completed my first full year living in Minnesota, I flew back here from Kansas City late on Christmas Day. While giving the typical landing information, the pilot casually informed us that the temperature on the ground was a balmy 25 degrees below zero. Of course he said it in that cool cat drawl that pilots use for everything from pointing out the Grand Canyon on the left side of the plane to informing the crew to prepare for a water landing because a flock of geese took out both engines, so I really didn’t feel anxiety over it.

That was before 9/11 so Barry, not even my fiancé yet, met me at the gate. Aww, how sweet. Of course that meant he had to turn off the car engine, which had cooled off considerably since he’d parked. Walking to the car was excruciating enough, but then to get into a car where the air coming out of the vents feels colder than the air you just escaped, that’s torture.

Your brain tells you, hey you’re in the car now, it’s supposed to be warm, and your body’s all hell-to-the-no it ain’t warm, bitch. Your teeth suddenly start rattling in your mouth like every silly cartoon you ever watched as a kid. Your eyes start to tear up and you fully expect to start crying ice cubes. Each one of your nose hairs turns into a tiny icicle. You can taste the air. Each breath feels like daggers being shoved into your lungs. A shudder starts in your shoulders and works its way down to your toes, knocking down each bone like a chain of dominoes.

You can’t speak, but you hear someone emitting a low moan that sounds like a beehive. By the time you realize you are the one making the noise, the left side and the right side of your brain are fighting a cage match. “You stupid bastard! I told you that you were flat out crazy for moving up to this godforesaken hellhole.” “Well it looked good on paper, how the hell was I supposed to know it would be this bloody cold?” “Didn’t you look at the goddamn weather section of the paper? You always do stuff like this to me.” “Oh, like you were a big help, all ‘oooh, I’m in love’ and let’s go on this adventure. You never look at the practical side of anything!”

Finally a truce is called when the car ride comes to its merciful end, and you rush indoors, where you finally warm up. In April.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

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