Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm a tropical fish

My friend J is getting ready for her daughter’s 4th birthday and she’s worried that it would be too cold on Maxine's birthday for kids to have an outdoor party. She lives in Toronto and she said to have mastered the art of chilled entertainment. Again, she invited me to spend Christmas with them, but at -10 degrees C or colder, even if I have the money (which I don’t), it would be like spending Christmas in Antarctica which is not and never will be in my wish list.

My coldest memory is the Easter weekend of 2002 in New York City. I spent my savings for a New York vacation---it was the end of winter, and the city was cold and wet. I was looking forward to experience New York City in spring but I arrived a bit too early. The snow had melted but left a biting cold in the air and a muddy slush that resembles the streets of Manila during rainy season. In the mornings, I could barely get out of bed, shivering despite the heater and I had to be dragged to take a shower. All I wanted to do was to stay in bed the whole day and read "One Hundred Years of Solitude". Itchy pimples erupted all over my face, I developed bad cold and a cough that sounded like coming from the wards of QI. There seemed to be not enough layers of thermal wear to keep me warm. I was cold and miserable, wishing I was dead...wishing I was back in hot and humid Manila. The sight of leafless trees and gray skies didn't cheer me up, either.

My feelings, it seem, have been oriented by the degree of sunlight as far back as I can remember. For reasons which will be, perhaps, more obvious to doctors than to me, hot and cold are two points of two clusters of images and emotions. As I reflect at this moment, I get the following associations: Hot---warm, bright sunlight, green fields, fountains, al fresco dining, ice cream, long drive, clear, blue skies, sweat, fiesta, bare feet, beach, mountains, kites, hammock, sunglasses, afternoon naps, cold beer, shorts, cotton shirts, flip flops, boats, travel. Cold---rain, wind, wet, damp shoes, slow-moving traffic, sea disasters, mob of umbrellas, clogged gutters, hot soup, flood, bulky jackets, isolation, stressed commuters, hot chocolate, cough, runny nose, boredom, sleep, cold morning showers, road accidents, storm, soggy jeans, grey skies, black out.

In cold weather, I'm a tropical fish stranded in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. If you've seen a tropical fish banging on the sides of the aquarium, that would be me. Life will only be bearable if I stay in bed in my pajamas, defenseless like a sick puppy. I do not really function properly until I can wear flip flops, shorts and t-shirt; grace and kindness evaporate when the temperature dips low and rain becomes a relentless, torrential downpour.

When I read the morning paper, after a brief glance at the obituary page, I concentrate on the weather news---if it's going to be rainy, cloudy, stormy or sunny, its immediate importance goes beyond any headline, scandal, scathing editorial and showbiz gossip.

Should circumstances ever allow me to retire someday soon (I’m still too poor to retire), I’d like to retire in a little fishing town on an island outside the typhoon belt where the sun shines 365 days in a year. There, not I hope alone, I shall eat fish, play music, read, and die content.

Photos taken at the Manila Ocean Park.


Anonymous said...

Visit Southern California instead - you'll love our sunny weather 365 days of the year. So what if we have wild fires, earthquakes, mudslides, freeway shootings and what nots...one breath of our world famous LA smog will desensitize you from all these dangers LOL.

Sidney said...

I can relate...I am going back to Belgium for the Christmas vacations... and I don't look forward to the cold and gray days over there....

Unknown said...

i love southern california weather, bertn. luckily, i didn't experience the santa ana winds, an earthquake, natural or man-made disasters during my visits. good thing i'm not new to slow-moving traffic, and my lungs are used to manila air so LA smog is a breeze.:D

Unknown said...

oh, you'd miss the comfortable cool breezes, Sidney. but don't mind the cold and downcast skies...enjoy your holidays!

Anonymous said...

In my neck of the woods, what you have is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or "SAD", albeit a mild one at that. I can relate for the weather affects my moods too. I feel quite down if I don't see the sun for an extended period of time. Winter is the worst season for me. Spring through the early fall seasons are when my disposition is at its sunniest (pun intended).

With all due respect to BertN, though I agree that Southern California weather is indeed glorious, you can do better than LA and avoid all their smog by considering San Diego. The weather there is indeed perfect all year and you're right by the Pacific Ocean. No smog problems and it hardly rains. :) Peace.

Unknown said...

yeah, I read about SAD, Panaderos. I also feel low during the rainy months...the sun is my Prozac.:D

i've never been to san diego. maybe someday. but "i left my heart in san francisco"...it's my favorite city in the US of A. maganda ang weather, there are beautiful places near the city, and the people are very friendly.