"I was walking, and I realized I was smiling. It must be the weather."
I overheard this at the coffee shop today while I sat sipping my soy chai, reading and enjoying the sunshine. Yes, that's right, sunshine. Salem is actually sunny and not cold today. (It's not exactly warm, but it's not cold.) I cannot possibly express how much joy this brings me.
The sun came at the right time, because I was this close to telling Sam that I refused to spend another month in this overcast, rainy town. The sun gives me a bit of hope. First, I am reminded that it does exist (I was beginning to wonder) and that after every winter, the summer will eventually come again. When the sun is shining, I have energy. I'm cheerful, not easily irritated, and I'm full of hope. I feel like me! Today was such a productive, amazing day that it has confirmed my suspicion that I am solar powered. I'm broken when it's cloudy. And I needed a day of feeling like me.
Before we moved to Salem, I wrote a post about learning to love the rain in anticipation of our move. If you have forgotten, don't feel bad, because I hadn't remembered it at all until I happened to stumble upon it recently. Once I read it, I felt guilty that I had failed so miserably at something I once thought I could easily accomplish - being okay with the rain. It's humbling to reread your own blog and feel chastised by your former self for not following through with something you promised to do. Sorry, Kimberly of 2011. You had high hopes for yourself, though you may have naively expected too much.
The truth is, I do not like the rain. I sincerely gave it my best effort, but every morning that I wake up and it's cloudy and gray and drizzling, I feel my spirits sink. I really, genuinely wish I could like the rain. I wish I could be one of those people who dances in it, who likes taking walks in it, who doesn't mind when the bottom of her jeans get soaked and leave her feet cold. I thought the longer I lived in Oregon, the more I would get used to it, and that maybe I'd even like it. And maybe if Sam and I stay here a while, I will learn to like it.
But as of now, I hate it.
I wish I could write about how I'm thriving, how I love wearing scarves and boots and getting all bundled up to go outside, that I don't miss California weather at all. I wish I could say that I've changed my outlook, so that when it starts raining I'm simply thankful for the gray skies and the frizzy hair. I want to be positive, and I sincerely try to be, every day. But I can only fake it for so long before I must admit that this weather is getting the best of me. I have always been, and now realize that I will most likely always be, a summer girl. Give me sunshine, leave the rain. I don't care that rain makes things green. I actually loved the dead, brown hills of Porterville that everyone else hated. I called them "golden" and I thought they were romantic.
I don't remember ever being so excited to see the sun (in April) in Porterville. Usually around this time, I was only annoyed that the temperature hadn't yet hit ninety. If I was a little chilly in my shorts and flip flops, it was still too cold for my taste. How utterly foolish I was to take those days for granted. Had I only but known, I would have savored each second of sunny, seventy-degree weather.
Speaking of Porterville, I've recently developed a bad habit that I'm sure is detrimental to my mental health and that I should probably break immediately. My secret shame, my own form of self-torture, is to look up the weather in places other than Salem, such as Porterville, Long Beach, and even Fallon. In case anyone is wondering, the weather forecast for Porterville next week says things like, "Plenty of sun," "Brilliant sunshine," "A full day of sun," and other phrases that make me want to weep. I play the "What if?" game, where I consider what life would be like if we'd moved to Phoenix or Fallon, or if we'd stayed in Petaluma. If we lived in Phoenix, I could be enjoying 80+ degree weather, wearing shorts and flip flops, and absorbing enough Vitamin D for my sensitive soul to live off of. Before you say, "Phoenix would be way too hot in the summer," let me stop you. I don't understand "too hot". I love heat, and I'd be fine. I know this because Porterville was known for it's 100+ temperatures as well, and I've lived in it and I loved it. Even when all my friends were complaining about sweating and melting and being too hot, I was skipping along, thanking God for His gift of sunshine.
People have tried to tell me to be thankful that I get to experience all the seasons. That would work if I liked all the seasons. The truth is, I'm sick of winter right after Christmas, I tolerate spring, and fall is just okay. But I'm in love with summer. I've tried to change, but I'm beginning to accept that this is just part of who I am, the way I'm wired, my preferences.
My ray of hope, the silver lining on all these clouds, is that I know I'm not alone. Even all the Oregonians I encounter - coworkers, customers, friends from church - are sick of the weather. They all admit that they get depressed around this time of year, too. (And according to a customer, this March was the wettest on record. Thanks, Oregon - what a lovely welcome I was given.) Today was a reminder that I won't have to wear my super warm fleece pajamas to bed every night for too much longer, that there is an end to the misery, and it's coming. And when that happens, hopefully I'll look back on this time and think about how silly I was to get so upset over cloudy days. But right now, when I feel like I need that sunshine, that warmth, that hope of someday feeling alive and energetic again, I am down about it.
My sweet husband tries to encourage me. He reminds me that we can't change the weather and, at this point, we can't change where we live. He says I should focus on what I can change - my attitude. (He is pretty wise, and amazing, but admittedly annoying when he says things like this. It's especially annoying when he's right.) The truth is, I've never been so good at changing my attitude. I'm pretty stubborn, I like to pout, and it's easier to just be grumpy.
But I don't like to be grumpy. So what else can I change? My hair. (Maybe this is why I dye my hair so much? So that I can change something when I don't want to change my attitude?)
Here's my new yellow hair, inspired by my favorite color, which is, of course, inspired by the sun.
And you lucky ducks who live in warm, sunny places, I implore you to please be thankful. In case you forget how lovely it is to live in decent weather, just think of me with my frizzy hair and wet feet, and smile with gratitude.