You all know the guy (I don’t mean to be sexist here, but usually it’s a guy): the one who has an opinion about everything, and whose opinion is always right. I have a low tolerance for this guy. And by “this guy” I’m talking about one guy among all of “those guys” out there in the universe. My tolerance of this guy is so low it’s barely detectable. When he walks in and announces his presence, I generally take this as my cue to leave, even if it means abandoning a half-eaten lunch.
But the other day, when this guy said the most blatantly incorrect and offensive thing he’s ever said (and he’s said a lot of repugnant things to me or in front of me), I stayed. As we all stared out the window at the slowly melting piles of filthy snow, he stated that you don’t need winter to fully appreciate spring (implying, as usual, by his tone of voice, that anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot). I did not respond to his assertion because anyone who knows this guy understands that arguing with him is futile. What I wanted to say was “well, maybe you should just go back to California then.” Zing. OK, well, I’ll work on my comeback.
The thing is, his statement goes counter to my whole life philosophy. Telling myself how amazing the spring will feel is how I survive winter. It’s why I tell winter to bring it on every year because man, if it doesn’t, spring isn’t going to feel incredible. The first year I lived in Boston, the winter was absurdly mild and I actually felt a little cheated when the flowers started coming up in March. This was not because I enjoy putting on 16 layers of clothing to go outside, or slipping on the sidewalks every day walking to work, or having to take the dog out in the dark when the wind chill is -11°F and your snot freezes if you breathe in through your nose. I actually hate all those things. But I can tell you one thing: 40° never feels better than when you’ve had three months below 20°.
I can say this for certain because you never see a Californian running around in shorts and a t-shirt in 55° weather. In fact, you rarely see a Bostonian running around in October in shorts and a t-shirt. On that first day of spring weather though, the floodgates open and a city once desolate and wasted comes to life once again. People strip off their clothing like it’s Spring Break, so much so that you have to put on sunglasses to protect your overly-sensitive eyes from the glare of the sun reflected off pasty white skin. The sandals come out, and toes that haven’t seen the light of day in five months breathe fresh air. I have actually seen people sunbathing in bikinis before the temperature has reached 65° simply because there is sunshine that must immediately be absorbed into thirsty, Vitamin D-deficient skin. Almost overnight, a dark, cold world is smiling again. The birds are singing. The grass, which you forgot existed, turns a green you never see anywhere else: the green of all greens, signifying life and hope.
I’m sorry, but without winter, this joy and rebirth doesn’t happen. You cannot feel that good without several months of feeling horrible. Now, whether or not the magic of springtime is worth the pain and misery of winter—well, that’s up to you. If it’s not, California and Florida are probably calling your name. You should probably just leave us tortured New Englanders to survive each winter in peace. But I guarantee you one thing: if you call me up in mid-April, sure as the sun rises, I’ll be happier than you are.