We’re hearty Midwest stock. We should know better. But every year we ride the same emotional rollercoaster. In winter, we hunker down, brace ourselves each morning to brave the bone-chilling cold. With brows furrowed, we slog through slush, making sporadic eye contact, through veiled faces, with the slivers of eyes peeking out of warm woolen scarves.
And then it happens. An unexpected warm spell. Usually on a random weekend in March, it hits. BAM! 65 and sunny. The streets, the lakefront, the sidewalks are all teeming with humanity. We’re people again, not scowling robots trudging as briskly as possible from point a to point b to escape the frigid temps. Our bodies—and our souls—embrace the welcome thaw, relishing in the warmth and the return to life and vibrancy. Spring is finally in the air!
Or so we think… As inevitable as the dreaded Monday morning buzzkill, Mother Nature shows her true colors. In an instant, our zeal, optimism and “ding, dong, the wicked winter is dead” dance is silenced by the onslaught of downright nasty weather. “Take this!” she taunts, slamming us with torrential downpours, arctic chills, marble-sized hail, and howling wind.
There’s a technical name for this phenomenon, which I learned during the course of my twenty years living in Chicago. Wait for it…[drumroll] it’s a Midwest winter.
I include myself among the millions who fall for the folly every year. Mother Effer….err Nature is going to blast us a couple more times for good measure. She will, just like last year and the year before. So what can we mere mortals do about it (besides the obvious swearing, cursing and picture posting of the latest shaft to our heat-seeking psyches)?
Well, when I’m in the throes of weather-induced depress (aka SAD), I tend to pine, agonize and long for sunnier locales. LA, Miami, Tuscany. Idyllic trips I’ve taken, where my favorite ensemble was not a flirty sundress or Tory-inspired tunic, but the simple cloak of sun enveloping my body—no, my being. Yet dreaming of delightful getaways has its perils. It feels good at the time, but usually plunges you into greater depression when you realize you’re here and NOT there. #realitysmackdown
During one particular moment of reverie, I did have a revelation. It was a dark, rainy day, so naturally I reached for my goth go-to: the handy black cowlneck—warm, practical, reliable. Reflective of my blah mood and the bitter weather outside. Trudging and scowling, all I could think of was “at this time last year, I was in Los Angeles.” Shorts, sun, sand. Palm tress and balmy breezes. It was torture.
There was one day in Lala Land that stood out vividly in my mind. We were headed back from a road trip to San Luis Obispo, admiring the coastline along PCH. “Hey guys, look! There’s a rainbow.” The colorful arch emerged from a mass of clouds far off into the distance and stretched out over the vast expanse of sky.
“It must be our lucky day,” we all agreed, and continued on our drive.
“There’s another one…and another!” The boys were squealing.
“No, it’s probably just a different part of the same one,” I dismissed, turning around to console them. But when I gazed out the window, I found that they were right! Crazy mist or sea sprays or magic created rainbows all across the sky. I had never seen anything like it. Nature had stolen a page out of Pixar’s playbook and, over the course of an hour’s drive we counted a jaw-dropping total of six separate rainbows.
As I crustily made my morning commute, I thought about that day. It’s crazy how the colors caused grown adults to giggle with delight. We were just as excited as the kids, scanning the skyline for our next ROYGBIV fix…and then it occurred to me. Why do we have to wait for such spectacles? For blue skies to wipe away our blue moods? As if our very sanity rests on a sliver of sun stingily doled out on a whim?
When you’re so dependent on the weather all you can do is wait—impatiently—for Mother Nature to cooperate. Or you can take matters into your own hands. Turn to color in its absence. Over the last few months, I’ve invested in some shall we say “bright” articles of clothing. Hot pink, brick red, cobalt blue jeans. Lemon yellow Hunters. Emerald green dress. Statement pieces perhaps. Tacky, maybe. But I don’t care. They actually lift my spirits. Make me happy when I wear them.
Perhaps a splash of color just might be the sunshine you need to get through this schizo weather until spring officially arrives. Who says toddlers and trannies are the only ones who can have some fun with color. Lighten it up. Brighten it up. Put on your happy pants and show Mother Nature where she can stick it.