Wanting the Cold: 4 Years Past

I keep wanting to believe its winter for some reason, despite the unseasonably warm weather. I’ve already been to several pool parties, that while were not ideal for swimming, I was able to wear summerish dresses with a pair of boots and bask in the sun, cocktail askance in hand.

That’s the magic of Southern California, people keep telling me. It must seem strange that being raised here I want cold days, the tinge of the air making your cheeks two stages from numb. When I lived in Scotland, I loved the rambling walks in the fall and spring, walking along the path from the fields to the sea, sun overhead and the brittle air crumbling around. The first moments were cold, but with enough momentum, you could feel your skin alight, almost catch fire within.

And catching yourself in a mirror right after was a magical site. Hair windswept, checks glowing red, eyes burning. It was a scene from Wuthering Heights or some other wilderness driven British novel, except I’d come into my jungle-temperature flat and find myself overheated, as if I had been in the Amazon wearing too much wool. Moor-bound and Amazonian. Maybe even a bit of Joseph Conrad. The best days were the rainy ones–my coat slightly wet, the wool reminiscent of its origins in its scent, and my giant rubber Wellingtons aka rain boots covered with multicolored dogs. This was more Moor/Amazon/Mary Poppins.

I learned that a cup tea really was appropriate for every occasion. It will be 90 degrees here and I want a cup of tea. I will have a terrible day or a great day or a hungover morning or a tired morning or a lazy afternoon and all I want is a cup of tea. A glass of wine after, but first the cup of tea.

I miss the chill of early summer when a cloud glances in front of the sun and the breeze rushes up just enough to shake off the warmth of the sun, restored just as quickly as the sun had first disappeared.

But here, I can languish in the sun, melt away into a pool of ruddy bronze and watch the heat rise off the concrete. I can burn my bare feet on the dirt in the vegetable garden and cool them off in the mess of grass. There is never the ache of cold that won’t leave your bones at night–instead it is a whisper, a reminder you have it lucky.

We all dream in what we don’t have. When I am stressed, I often dream I have gone back to St. Andrews. It was a year in which I pushed boundaries, learned about myself, was lonelier than I ever knew I could be, and yet somehow entirely enthralling. I both loved and hated my year there for different reasons. It’s strange what we turn back to–I still find Scotland strangely comforting. The memories are more vivid than most of my other pasts.

It’s strange what we want. It’s strange I long for the cold.

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