When we woke up this morning, the thermometer showed that it was 39°F (3.9°C). Not 39°F outside, friends. That was the temperature INSIDE our bedroom. Brrr….
But I am not going to complain about how frigid it is because…I promised not to.
This all started nearly two decades ago, when I spent several weeks in Changsha, Hunan, which is one of the infamous furnaces of China.
Those were hot weeks, filled with *so*very*much* sweat, and frequent thoughts of “WHY IS IT SO HOT?” and “why do they insist on keeping the a/c off?” and “why is there no ice in the drinks?” and “how is eating watermelon a viable solution to this?” inevitably followed by another round of “WHY IS IT SO HOT?”
It was that summer that I discovered that living in nonstop heat and humidity without the comfort of air-conditioned homes, stores, classrooms, and vehicles was a significant challenge for me. My brain spent a lot of time dwelling on how uncomfortably hot I was, and I’m confident complaints about it filled a lot of my conversational space as well. (Sorry to everyone who was there.) (Honestly, I loved that summer despite the heat. It’s part of why I came back to China long-term. But that’s another post.)
At the end of those weeks, and all that thinking about how much nicer it is to not be hot, I made a vow. I said to whatever other sweaty human was nearest to me, “That’s it. I am never going to complain about being cold again.”
And you know what? I’ve mostly kept that promise over the years.
Actually, my vow is fairly easy to keep for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I spend my life in warm climates. For much of the year, I’m hot. Therefore, there aren’t many chances to feel cold, let alone to start complaining about icy temps.
Secondly, I honestly do prefer being cold to being hot. (I know. It’s insane. But I’m finding there’s at least a small band of cold-loving crazies in the world. Cold freaks unite! Some day we’ll meet up in Norway and get matching T-shirts.)
Guangxi has made it hard to keep that vow, though. Despite being a subtropical climate, it gets miserably cold in the winter. The factors that make it especially hard to bear include:
- no indoor heating
- concrete, tile, cinder blocks, no insulation, single pane windows
So, when it’s 39°F outside, it’s also 39°F inside. And the heat is whisked out of you by the damp air, so that even when you are in your house, all bundled up like that kid from A Christmas Story, you feel chilly and can never quite get warm enough. Bonus for the curious: look up chilblains. I had never even heard of them before coming to Guangxi, but I know them now.
Anyway, when faced with weeks of damp cold, even a cold-lover like me starts to think “WHY IS IT SO COLD?” and “maybe we can hang blankets on the walls like they hung tapestries in castles for insulation?” and “I wonder how many hot water bottles I can zip inside my coat?” and then back to “WHY IS IT SO COLD?”
But I have to stop myself. I remember my vow, and keep my mouth shut. (That also helps preserve heat, right?) I remember how hot and sweaty I’ll be in a few more months, and I change my tune. I try to enjoy all this cold because it won’t last. Come early May, I’ll be wishing I was shivering instead of sweating.
This is one of several posts I wrote a couple of years ago but never got around to posting. It gets colder where we currently live than it did in Guangxi, but it’s a much drier climate so we have escaped the misery of wet-cold, at least for now. No matter where you are, may you have a warm and cozy December!