For a second straight year, here in New Jersey, we’ve had a challenging winter. It’s only February so it’s hard to say what the rest of the season will be like. And who really puts stock in a rodent that emerges from a hole to a flurry of flash bulbs? I recall last year at this time, it seemed we had a snowstorm at least every week and most of our lives were disrupted in ways large and small. I still chuckle thinking about going to visit a girlfriend in Connecticut and one of the highways had only one lane open because of a snowstorm earlier in the week. Our patience and driving skills were put to the test last year in a major way.
This year, we’ve had a few small snow events, including a storm that was expected to yield up to 30 inches of snow never quite materialized. Temperatures are rougher this winter than the snowstorms.
I am not a winter person. I stop exercising outside when the temps go below 45 degrees. Life became more tolerable for me about ten years ago when I started wearing a hat and bought my first down jacket. Every couple of years, I buy a new one (always in brown to lift my spirits above all the black clothing in the dreary winter) and it has cut down on the cold blowing through my body. I may not be a fan of the cold, but I absolutely love snow. When a snowstorm is predicted to occur overnight, sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m anticipating what it might look like in the morning. Snow also changes up our routines and sometimes allows us to leave work early or hang out with our honey on the couch. And before the snow blowers start up, the quiet hush of silence is peaceful.
What has bothered me this year more than any other year is not the winter itself. It’s all the gloating. As a frequent user of social media, the onslaught of photos of thermometers in warmer climates bugs me. Not because I am necessarily jealous. Living in the northeast, we get fabulous seasons so even if winter feels interminable sometimes, the probability is rather high that we will experience the joy of basking in the sun on the beach in July. The photos of thermometers aren’t “oh hey, look at our weather” it feels like “hey stupid New Jersey person, look how much better it is to live in [your warmer location here].”
It’s not a popular opinion among people, but I happen to love living in New Jersey. It’s comical to say so now that I’ve lived here for nearly fifteen years, but as a college student in Pennsylvania, the New Jersey kids seemed so much more sophisticated than I was. They shopped at the Garden State Plaza and it was so easy for them to hop on the train and go “into The City” to “go see a show”. I’ve lived a few other places in the Northeast and New Jersey felt like home immediately. Not only is our proximity to “The City” and “The Shore” a great perk, but I have also found the people to be warm, passionate, bossy, mostly kind, and assertive. I’ve made friends more easily here than anywhere I’ve lived, other than the chunk of pals I’m still tight with from grade school in Wilkes-Barre.
So you live in [your warmer location here] while I live in what you might think is a pit of disgusting gray slush and a thermometer making another descent into single-digits. There’s no reason to gloat. This weather creates hardships for people who have to work outdoors, people with health problems, or those who might be struggling to afford their heating costs. And while you are having a drought, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake, you will not see me rubbing it in your face.
I wouldn’t trade my Garden State for 365 days of sunshine. Not yet anyway. (Besides, my Eastern-European complexion could never handle it.) If a fabulous opportunity were to come my way to move elsewhere, maybe I’d consider it. But the crazy weather gives us New Jerseyans something to talk about and bond over. We all have stories about our year-round weather events: snow shoveling mishaps, traffic delays, and tales of surviving Hurricane Sandy without heat and electricity.
So whether you like me or not, New Jersey, you’ve got me. Winter, spring, summer, or fall.