One of my primary justifications for moving away from Portland to the Midwest was the weather. I wanted four seasons, not the paltry one and a half (consistent rain and slightly less consistent rain with sporadic sunshine) offered in the Northwest. When I explained this to people, there was some scoffing. They, quite patronizingly I thought, warned me that it is cold, like really cold, in Chicago, and it snows, like really a lot. Well, I grew up in Montana, where the first frost comes in August, Halloween costumes have to accommodate parkas and snow boots (if you could come up with an idea that legitimately incorporated a turtleneck you were absolutely going to win best costume in the school Halloween parade), and you can ski in April. How much colder could Chicago be?
Like way colder. There are differences between the winters in Chicago and Montana. Chicago is humid and windy, so the cold works it way through your clothes, skin, and muscles right into your bones, while Montana is very dry so the cold just stings without eating away at your flesh. Also, I lived in a much smaller, cleaner town, so the snow didn’t take on the greyish-brown cast the snow in Chicago does. The most important difference though, is one that had never occurred to me until just a few days ago. When I lived in Montana, I was a kid. I didn’t have to get food or go to work in the snow. Instead, I got to play in the snow. In Portland, anything more than an inch of snow shuts the city down, but in Chicago, nothing shuts down for a mere six inches of snow. You still have to go to work. You still have get your own food and anything else you need – it’s just more dangerous.
Long story short, I’ve amended my view on snow. It’s lovely, but I don’t need to have it around regularly the way I thought I did. Before I moved to Chicago, I thought a real winter was a reason to move somewhere, but now I know that, if anything, it’s a reason to move away from somewhere.
P.S. The best part about my half-baked love of winter, is that Chicago and Portland both had their first snow in the same week. Now Portland’s first snow will probably also be it’s last, while Chicago still has a good three months of winter left in it. But still, it’s a little ironic.
P.P.S. Alison, De wanted me to let you know that we were wrong – Chicago’s weather is worse than Portland’s. I’m pretty sure you were just being nice and supporting my wing nut weather dreams, and I appreciate it, but we can give up the fight now. Portland wins the weather contest by being marginally less bad, but significantly more livable than Chicago.