I used to thrive in the cold. 50 degrees outside? No problem. I would run around in that weather in shorts and a t-shirt. I would be unphased by the cold or wind; In fact, I would welcome it. If it rained, I would it enjoy even more. I would always get yelled at for it too. Told to bring a jacket, I would literally bring it along to dinner or wherever, but never wear or use it.
This would carry on to my older years too. Waiting outside the band room for zero period orchestra in the brisk cold air was quite enjoyable. Rainy days during football practice were the most fun. Rainy day in college? No Helmet? No problem, I’d still bike to campus and back. And I never got sick or ill either. It reminded me how alive I was.
All that changed when I went to China in the December of 2012.
This was during the Winter break of my 5th and final year of college. I had high hopes in entering the aerospace industry still, so as far as I knew, this would be my last trip to China. China is a big country, so it happened slowly. When we visited Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shantou, weather was mid 60’s; a light jacket or no jacket and long pants would suffice for roaming around. A couple stops here and there and we were in Suzhou for a couple nights. It was particularly rainy during our time in that city. 30 degrees meant a thick jacket and jeans was barely enough; still manageable though. Then we went to Beijing for the last leg of our trip and that’s when it was really, really, really, ridiculously cold. While in Suzhou, one of my cousins mentioned that the average temperature in Beijing was 10. And from there we tried to imagine what 20 degrees colder would feel like.
When you can tell someone how cold it is outside by holding up at most 10 fingers, it’s not very fun. In fact, it was too cold. It took 15 minutes more than normal to get ready every morning because of all the layers we had to put on before we left the hotel. Even with my real snow/winter clothing, it felt like it wasn’t quite enough. I felt bad for my cousins that brought 3 hoodies to layer up with. It clearly wasn’t enough. Most of our conversations while walking around went like this:
You really needed a face mask, the wind and cold were fierce.
We visited one restaurant that gave us hot coke with ginger. We weren’t sure if we liked it because of the taste or because it was a hot beverage and we were super cold.
Even with snow boots and thick socks, there were times I couldn’t feel my toes. The condensation build up on my face mask (which was really just another shirt that I tied around my face) would freeze sometimes. It was kind of funny and saddening at the same time. And that’s when all the cold sleep jokes began…
I came back from the trip happy to have ~70 degree Southern California weather during Winter. But I lost something while I was out there. I can’t stand the cold anymore. I am mortal. I am weak. It doesn’t help that the building where I work is always super cold. Things will never be the same.
Maybe I need to travel somewhere super hot to restore balance?