It has been unseasonably warm and the snowfall has been at a record low for this time of year in Maine, and I have been particularly grateful for that. This morning, though, whiteout conditions greeted me from my bedroom windows.
I have always had a hard-core hate on for winter, and am quite stubborn about maintaining it. Yes, I can see the beauty and appreciate the coziness and all that crap, but the snow stops being beautiful when you have to drive in it and every muscle in your body feels like an over-wound watch spring every inch of the way. The coziness is fantastic, if your windows don’t rattle and wheeze and your bills to maintain a comfortable, let alone “cozy,” indoor temperature aren’t in the $150/month range. I also hate, hate, HATE dressing for the cold. I dislike hats, scarves, gloves, coats, boots – every piece of winter wear makes me feel suffocated and constricted. By the time I’m suited up inside, I’m overheated; I walk out, and it feels even colder as a result.
Would I feel differently if I worked from home? I think probably. Being required to be on the roads at a specific time – especially a time when everyone else is, too – is particularly harrowing. I am a very good winter driver, but most people are not, and they are the ones I am afraid of when I take to the roads in messes like the one outside right now. Having to bundle up and leave the house regardless of the severity of the conditions makes me cranky and oppositional. And don’t even get me started on clearing off the car, shoveling, and parking bans.
Would I feel differently if I weren’t single? Yes, I can pretty confidently say that having someone to curl up beside after that stupid drive home from work would make it a little less irritating. I would gladly bake up a storm for someone willing to do the snow clearing – and that has the added bonus of heating the apartment and making it smell yummy. But mostly, I think it’s that I tend to hibernate because of the snow and cold and dangers of travel, and I don’t have many opportunities for touch. I work in an environment where we mostly don’t even see one another, let alone put an arm around a shoulder or give a quick hug. Joshua and I will occasionally wrestle, and I typically get at least one Gibbs-slap each morning and evening, so that’s something. When I do see friends, I am so grateful for the wonderful bear hugs, the kisses on the cheek, the shoulder upon which I can rest my head for a time. The kind of physical presence a lover provides, though – a warmth you can lean into and that supports you both physically and emotionally, an all-over pressure that reminds you of the skin you’re in and the blood flowing beneath it, a buoy you can wrap your arms around tightly to anchor you in the sea of daily life… That is something I miss very much in the winter months.
So, I’ve been thinking about the ways I can do for myself what a friend or lover or partner isn’t always around to do. Lots of soft extras on the bed. Frequent baths. Taking the time to brush my hair completely dry. Lotion, lotion, everywhere.
What are some of the things you do that make you feel present in your body? How do you compensate for times when there isn’t as much touch in your life as you need?