Saturday, January 19, 2008

warm days, happy days

The warmth must come from within, because, after a multi-hour, multi-stage day of travel, beginning, pleasantly enough, this way…

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…and ending with the coldest O’Hare bus ride ever…

I thought to myself – welcome back to the Midwest, where outside temperatures can be extreme and inside temperatures are never warm enough. It does not help that we are in for a week-end of Arctic, sub-zero temps.

As I wiggled the key and pushed back my condo door, I could tell right away. The furnace was dead.

Luck would have it that space heaters, on loan from when the furnace was out the previous time (just before I left for Europe), are still here, ready to be plugged in, so that I never really saw icicles inside my unit.

And eventually, someone will come and the problem will be fixed, so that there can be one interior in all of Wisconsin that makes me feel warm. Maybe.

Back in Cassis (and in Paris as well, but in Cassis this was just so extreme, I had to smile), everyone bundled up in heavy sweaters, coats, scarves, always the scarves, men and women, wrapped in miles of wool, even when the temperature hovered near forty or fifty. When you would go in to a café, you’d be greeted with a heating unit right at the entrance (hello! welcome! we'll keep you warm!) and oftentimes a thick curtain to kept the gusty air from permeating the rest of the space inside.

But, I live in a place that's more hospitable to polar bears and arctic hares and a harp seal. Maybe not a harp seal. And where no one thinks about putting a thick curtain by a café door, and where it’s perfectly acceptable to skimp on heat but waste resources on chilling the air in the summer. A permafrost land of thick skinned and warm blooded people. People like me, with a blood composition that matured in less frosty conditions, shiver and hide and dream about Cassis or New Mexico (I’ve not been there, I imagine it to have a near perfect seasonal variations).

Green grass, easily imagined, elsewhere.

Ah, but truthfully, I am happy as anything to be back, on this side of the ocean. Because it is home. And, most importantly, because I can easily pick up the phone and tell my petite fille, the one who isn’t so petite anymore, happy birthday today. One tap of the finger and she is there and her voice sings with the joy of her special day and I sit back and listen, thrilled to be so close, even though really, she is a thousand miles away. (But only one time zone. It's all in the time zones.)

Happy birthday, little one. I love you more than lilies and roses!

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