Monday, February 20, 2006

Bone-chilling Cold

Okay, any East Coast folks who think it doesn't "really" get cold in San Francisco can stop reading right now. Go sit next to the radiator with your central heating by your double-pane storm windows and mock me if that makes you feel better. Sit tight with your cup of hot cocoa and bitch about the two feet of snow and the inevitable slush to follow and how obviously I don't know how good I've got it if I have the temerity to use the words "bone-chilling cold" to describe weather in the Bay Area.

I understand that I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where I avoid months in long underwear. I know that precipitation that remains liquid has many advantages over its solid cousins. And I appreciate that we enjoy more daylight hours than people at more northern latitudes.

As I sit here typing in hat and gloves, though, don't tell me it ain't cold. Those Victorians -- the notoriously repressed folks who built the charming building in which I live -- apparently believed that not only shouldn't people have sex, they also shouldn't wear less than 16 layers of clothes at any time. Otherwise, there'd be a little more insulation in the place.

Can anyone tell me why heaters are almost always right below windows? I've seen it over and over, and not just in SF, so my optimistic self believes there must be a point to giving newly warmed air the most direct route towards its easiest exit in the room. We've decided to throw cash out the windows instead and cut out the electric company as middleman. We'll freeze, but at least we'll be adding to the local economy more directly.

Still, I'll miss this place when Emily and I move to a different neighborhood. In all my nervousness about finding a new apartment that allows cats and packing all our stuff, I realized that I've spent a third of my life in this flat. It has been a period only slightly less formative than the third+ growing up in my family house. Part of me is afraid to leave this home where I've become myself.

I'm taking the bone-chilling cold seeping into my abode as a reminder that the flat isn't perfect -- and it never was. Despite the realtor's motto about the importance of "location, location, location," the walls and windows and stairs here never held the key to the changes in me. I have. I've had help along the way, of course, but in the end, I've unlocked those doors myself. And that isn't going to change, whatever address the outrageous PG&E bill comes to.

So I'll suffer through the gloves and hat for now, and light a candle for a new place filled with even more warmth than this one. Which, if the flame wavering in a draft is any indication, shouldn't be too hard to find.


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