April 16, 2013


80 degrees this week! EIGHTY DEGREES. Since this weather has bloomed, I have been incessantly productive. Ok, maybe not incessantly, but I have been getting up before 10 anyways. (Judge not lest ye be judged). I love this weather. I love the warmth around my skin, the smell of wisteria and grass and jasmine in the air, the thick yellow coat of pollen on my car (yes, I'm serious), the early morning sun welcomed by songbirds and the very late sunset serenaded by the whirr and buzz of insects. Do I live in a Disney movie? No, I was just really tired of winter (ok, and Beauty & the Beast was on TV the other day). 

But I was surprised by my attitude. This is the first spring thaw since moving from Chicago to Columbia, South Carolina that I really hated winter and longed for warm weather. A displaced Midwesterner, I arrived here in August of 2008 in complete disgust. Note the surly fake smile on my ID picture taken the day I moved in. I was sweating in ways and places I never knew possible. I grew tired after rounding the block. I felt as if I might melt when the sun was out, which was ninety-five percent of the time. My regular routine of jogging in the neighborhood felt more like penitence for leaving the North. The steep incline of the sidewalk up to my apartment was an uphill battle that left me sobbing, and screaming, "I'M FROM THE GREAT PLAINS!" How did anyway live a pedestrian lifestyle here and survive? (Since, I've learned that the only pedestrians in Columbia are either homeless or from out of town.) Eventually I discovered that my sneakers/jeans/flannel shirt combo was not appropriate attire here. I started wearing dresses and sleeveless shirts, and things that I felt showed way too much of my pasty Illinois skin. I also gave in and became more motorist than pedestrian. Maybe it was the new wardrobe, maybe it was the fact that my new boyfriend's mom had a pool nearby, but after a little while I actual started liking Columbia summers. This winter felt colder and longer and I found myself even wishing for that sweltering weather. "Bring on the humidity, the pollen, the skin-melting sun!" I was liberated. I was embracing the heat, and it was embracing my shivering shoulders.

All of this has got me thinking about our ability to adapt. If we tough it out long enough, eventually we can amalgamate into a new environment. Some people are stubborn, and never want to leave their home base. Some people are wanderers, constantly searching and hoping to find something new and exciting. All people are able to adapt. I really believe that. It may not always be the right thing or the right time, but we are capable. As many of our nomadic ancestors might tell us, home is where the heart is, not great plains, or mossy trees, or salty sea air, although these things can be lovely reminders of memories we hold and cherish. H.G. Wells wrote, "There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change." Adaptation is part of the strength of the human spirit, it teaches us, compels us, and transforms us. While our instinct may be to eschew change, the process of adaptation may be where we really learn who we are.

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