Ladies and gentlemen, it's official: I've survived my first official sidewalk wipeout of 2016. This morning at around 7:25 am, in my rush to get into work after a slower-than-expected commute, I hit a patch of black ice walking altogether too fast and ass-planted backwards right into the street. Casualties: my coffee (RIP), my dignity (or what was left of it, I suppose), and any shred of remaining patience for the bullshit that is a Minnesota winter.
These days, it's cold in Minnesota...the kind of cold that sears the lungs and makes my eyes tear up from the wind. Walking to work this morning was an adventure...the pavement slick with the slightest dusting of snow and, underneath that, ice, looking deceptively safe but secretly greasy like an oil slick. I'm not known for being graceful (see above), and the combination of Uggs and bad sidewalks just increases the adventure. Everyone seems a bit more sluggish, from the pigeons in the arcade outside work to my fellow commuters, heat cranked and windows frosty on the morning drive.
And let's talk about those drives, shall we? I drive a Honda Civic, which actually handles better than my Bug or Corolla ever did. That said, I'm a ridiculously cautious driver in weather, especially on highway 94, and that can't be said about many others on the road with me. From the granny drivers going 10 when the roads really aren't that bad, to the scary semis that seem to think black ice is fictional like Santa Claus, I always feel like I'm taking my life in my hands when I get behind the wheel in snow. Honestly, I work from home as much as I can just to avoid it.
It's so cold that I wake up with chapped lips and hands, and it's so dry that my nose bleeds when I blow it. All I want to do when I get home is curl up in my chair under a blanket, as close to the fire as possible. Or submerge myself in a bath, maybe, and soak and steam all the chill out of my bones that I can. I've been existing on soup and tea and oranges lately...the first two to warm myself up, and the third because citrus reminds me of warmer days and climates.
I'm regaining the art of layering every day. Today, it's tights with leggings over them, ski socks in my boots, a dress and a sweater and a coat and mittens and a scarf and one of those hats with the giant pompoms on top. I feel bundled like "A Christmas Story," so stiff with layers that my normal posture and gait are changed, and still so cold on the bits of exposed flesh that, if I could, I would cover every inch but my eyes. It's so brutally cold when I get out of the car that the layers are the only thing that make the half-mile walk in tolerable...even if it means I start sweating and have to strip half of them off as soon as I get through the door at the office. These vacillations between hot and cold mean my toes are always icy, even under two or three layers.
Essentially, winter is a trust exercise...like those forced bonding routines at camp, where you're supposed to just let yourself fall backward into someone else's arms, right? I always hated those; I'm not a naturally trusting person, and I fall enough of my own volition to make a planned fall seem even more absurd than it is. Winter's like that...Iknow it's just a part of it, and yet I have to take the stupid fall anyway. Every day I trust that I'll stay on the road and on my feet, that frostbite and frozen eyelashes will stay at bay, and that, hopefully, eventually, it will warm up.