Opinions, Column

Frozen in The Boston Cold

I keep telling people back home in Argentina how cold it gets in Boston to their routine decrees of disbelief. It has been a glaringly obvious and exploitable conversation starter for the recurring phone call with my parents these past two months and has served as a useful tool in the process. Living, or “surviving” as they would put it, on a daily basis in these temperatures is enough to merit a reaction from them that really overstates the herculean nature of getting out of bed in the morning.

I suppose the weather is useful in a way, as it keeps my parents clattering small talk incessantly and the conversation moving straight past the dreaded part, after all the greetings and pleasantries, where I have to racket my inner thoughts to find something I’m actually doing with my life to answer the question: “So, what’s up?”

The conversation always goes the same way—I tell them that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day it got to around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 in Farenheit), they repeat the number back to me while forgetting to slot their jaws back into position awaiting my inevitable confirmation, usually in the form of a head nod, that yes I had indeed said that very statement to them five seconds prior.

And yet, for as much contempt or boredom that I harshly show my family members and friends back home for their incredulity, I probably would’ve reacted in the same stupid sense of surprise if I had heard what New England temperatures were going to be that low 18 months before this day.

As someone who always answered the “Warm or cold weather?” question with the former and having lived much of his life in an area where cold can be defined as anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, going somewhere that enjoyed subjecting people to what seemed like the point of sublimation was nigh on impossible. And yet here I am, which speaks wonders to my ability to judge my own principles.

But aside from that, it would be redundant for me to continue telling you about how cold it has been a few of these days since you’ve lived through it as much as I did. The wait along the Newton bus stop, the frantic chase toward the entrances of buildings, the emptiness of dining halls and the chocolate bar are all things every BC student has noticed throughout the winter.

It’s in times of this extreme cold, when it hurts just to stand outside waiting for a bus to arrive or when your soda freezes stuck on the inner walls of the cup when you’re walking back from late night, when I function the least. Every single place I might want to go to or thing I have to go do is chained to the uninvited caveat of “it might be just cold enough, if the humidity is right, to actually freeze your balls off right now.” I spend more and more time bunkered down in my dorm, confined by rescuing walls. I excuse myself to hoard my waking hours on catching up with schoolwork or idly hanging out with friends ad infinitum.

By natural extension, some experiences I could have accrued in all that time become a can that is kicked forward down the road because of my sheer and absolute surrender to the cold outside. I haven’t been going to the gym as much lately, nor have I gone around town or campus as much with my friends either. It has all been exchanged for turtled huddling near a radiator on full blast all day. And none of that, for as much as I enjoy the time I spend with friends, actually goes toward any sort of life experience, nor does it go toward any sort of story that I could end up writing about.

Furthermore, even when they say the weather gets better, does it actually get any better? An advancement from the weather of arctic spheres to simply “very cold” very much can be considered an improvement, but it surely cannot be considered within the realm of what is preferable. I remember, it was immediately after walking into the bathroom on one of these frigid mornings when goosebumps were fired across my arms and back. All I know is, in its chill-induced shock, my brain jolted toward producing an image I could wield as a coping mechanism, and the image it produced probably looks and feels a lot more like a Caribbean beach than “Newton in November.”

The term “Dead Cat Bounce” is derived from the notion that “even a dead cat will bounce after it’s dropped from a high place” and, within the world of finance and economics, refers to a sudden spike of recovery after a period of extended decline. Outside of that realm however, it also serves to perfectly encapsulate how this winter has been feeling, in the form of it having improved from deathly to drastic. The cat died on impact—this winter rebound is just picking the cat up off the ground.

I understand that all of this may seem like a pointless diatribe in which one of the most unmovable principles of nature is denounced by a teenage drama queen, and I will allow for a lot of what I’m saying to be chalked up as hyperbole. But I think I’m allowed to say that this cold, even for the “this isn’t even cold enough to close down the public pool around my home town in Manitoba” types, has been less than ideal. Yet as I walk across campus, stiff as a statue, the reality of New England winters is beginning to set in—a grand bargain where normality and insanity compromise to create not misery, but certainly displeasure.

February 19, 2019