Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Any day now, I'll be leaving the radio on in every room of the house. (Well, I'll be leaving podcasts on, at least.)

There comes a time in every child's life when they realize that their parents were Right.  It can come at any time, but it most often follows a disaster.  A laundry mishap reveals that yes, it is a good idea to sort out the reds and whites.  And picking at it does mean it won't heal.  The big one, for most, comes when they raise their own children (and really, child-rearing is essentially a disaster that unfolds on a local, slow scale).  The newly minted parent stares exasperated at their begotten brat and thinks, "Man, I'm glad I never behaved like that.  ...Oh wait."  And then you get your mom more flowers next Mother's Day.

For me, the moment came a little earlier.  Three years ago, on the second year of my PhD studies, I went home to Saskatchewan for Christmas.  That meant going from -5 celsius in southern Ontario to the -25 of the Prairies.  It was a shock to the system, to say the least.  The thing was--it never stopped being a shock.  I spent the whole break shivering, wrapped in blankets, and complaining whenever anyone left the door open for more than a few seconds.  And when I went back to Ontario, the chill persisted.  And still persists, anytime the temperature starts to dip.  I lost my innocence that Winter.  Never again would I be someone who took their inner temperature for granted.  Never again would "winter" be equated with coziness and warmth.  No, from this day on... I would be Cold.

If anything, it's gotten worse over the years.  And it manifests in strange ways.   If I'm tired, I'm more prone to get Cold.  If I get too Cold, I start coughing.  The only solution, at that point, is to put on a toque--even if indoors--and, gradually, the coughing will subside.   And there's more.  From mid-October on, it's a rare day when I'm not wearing at least two pairs of socks. But recently, the socks haven't been enough.  My feet are still Cold.  And when they're Cold, I don't sleep.  A few nights of this syllogism have convinced me that it's not something that can be borne on an ongoing basis. 

My mother had a number of solutions for her own ongoing Coldness.  She'd turn up the thermostat.  She'd huddle under blankets.  But the main solution was a heating pad.  Every night, she'd toss her heating pad down the stairs for someone to microwave.  We would do so, and toss it back up.  (Some readers may inquire why we were tossing things up and down stairs instead of just walking up and down them.  These people have probably never had the benefit of stairs in their domiciles.  If you have multiple stories and you're not tossing things up and down stairs, you don't know what you're missing.)    And for a few fleeting moments, the Cold would go.

We teased her about it, a little.  About being so sensitive to the temperature, and whether she needed a blanket, and  so forth.  And, like all realizations concerning the wisdom and lives of parents, it's only in retrospect that you realize you were wrong, and feel bad about past actions.  My mother was right.  I suspect she might always be right.  It's a cold world out there.  Often, even a Cold one. 

As for my own Cold problems, I think there's only one possible solution.  I'm going to toss down the heating pad, and you put it in the microwave, okay?  And don't make fun of my toque.

Later Days.

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