I have lived in Minnesota for my entire life. As much as those who visit have complained about the cold weather — indeed, those who live south of here have a misconception that it’s never warm — I’ve never had a problem with the cold. As I learned a few years ago during a particularly dry winter, not having snow for a few months of the year is unnatural to me. At the time, it actually plummeted me into minor depression. I proudly wear an imaginary badge on my chest that states “Yes, I’m from Minnesota, you wuss.” I think it ranks up with those who live in LA or New York City as a badge of bravery and is to be worn with honor.
All of that said, this winter has completely sucked the joy out of the season for me. As this month comes to a close, I cannot think of a January that has left me feeling more miserable. Even the novelty of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, an annual pilgrimage to the downtown area and beyond, has yet to intrigue me enough to get outside and enjoy the frozen festivities. All I want to do is stay inside, eat soup and chili, and hibernate like a bear. I have never felt this way. What’s worse, I never in a thousand years would’ve even thought I’d feel this way.
Minnesota, to me, has always been the perfect state. While the rest of the country has to worry about tidal waves, earthquakes, hurricanes, poisonous spiders and snakes, and the apparent need for grits with every meal, Minnesota has to worry about three dangers: Tornadoes, winter and spring flooding. In the grand scheme of shit to be afraid of, we actually get off pretty easily. Our springs are beautiful when the natural world explodes from apparent wintry death with all of the colors of life. Our summers are exquisite with no end of rivers, lakes and parks to play. And our autumn rivals any in the country as far as fall colors and cool weather. Winter has always been a small challenge, but nothing ever too much to handle. Every so often, you have to plan for extra traveling time, and have a higher tolerance to idiots in their cars, but nothing too drastic.
This winter has been noticeably different. It’s been cold. Like, un-fucking-real cold.
My kids have already been given several days off from school this year. Not because of historic snowfalls, which can happen on rare occasions, but because of cold that makes the rest of the country wonder if our heads should be examined for even considering living here. That happens at least once a year, but it’s normally just a day or two. The rest of the winter is generally cold and snow can be plentiful. Overnight and for the next 48 hours or so, the temperature will never get above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live here, that’s not terrible. But overnight for at least the next two nights, gusting winds will make it feel like -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This will be the third time this has happened this year; third and fourth if you count the days separately. And the weeks in between have been havoc. It will hang just above 0 for a few days, then, for reasons beyond my comprehension, it’ll kick up to 40 degrees for a day or so, melting the snow into wet slush, only to drop back down to 0 for another week or two. To put it mildly: I’m so fucking sick of this shit that I’m actually considering moving. Coming from a guy who shovels his driveway in a hoodie and has been known to clean off my car with bare hands, that should mean something to you.
But I honestly have no idea where to go from here. Well, pragmatically-speaking. Had I the money, I’d just move to Kauai and become a sugarcane farmer. I mean when I really stop and think about it, how quickly and easily could I sell my house, sell off most of my stuff, find a new job and move to another state? I don’t think it would be too hard. But I’m stuck on where.
Northeast: Ideologically, this would make the most sense. I already think like most of these folks. But, if anything, I’m only signing up for more unpredictable winters and the off-chance that a hurricane may venture a bit more north than is expected. With Global Climate Change, that’s not entirely far-fetched.
Southeast: All due respect, but I cannot understand you folks. Not that I have an issue with the accent, but more so the complete inability to accept normalcy. Also, the chances of my being beaten to death with a bible and dropped in a pit of venomous snakes increases exponentially. Whenever I hear about some crazy fuckers on the news, I fully expect that it came from the southeast. And more often than not, it did.
South: Fuck Texas. No, seriously. You have and always will be the penultimate example of how I would never want to live my life. But above Texas isn’t too bad. Lots of lovely people in the center of the country, but you have the lovely distinction of being “Tornado Alley”. I’m at the very northern end of this region, and that’s close enough, thank you.
Southwest: I absolutely fell in love with New Mexico, and I cannot express in words why that was. But I imagine that it, like so many other places, is a great place to visit, but not to live. But Arizona and Nevada are strange animals to me. I’m not sure that I “get” the people that live there, and I’m fairly certain they’d never “get” me. Also — I really don’t want to have to check my shoes for scorpions as part of my morning ritual.
California: Because it takes up have of the west coast, I thought it best to have it’s own category. You have a wonderful population of people, including several member of my family. But I fully expect one of two things to happen — the earthquakes and wildfires will completely destroy everything, or the state government will finally push the lot of you over the edge, sending you into a murder spree that will force the rest of the country to just detonate the fault lines like Christopher Walken’s villain in A View To A Kill and send the state into the ocean. We may have elected Jesse Ventura as our Governor, but you people elected Arnold Schwartzenegger. I honestly think we got the better end of that decision.
Northwest: This area is absolutely beautiful and I think I’d get along well with you folks. That’s probably why I’ve actually considered you the most. But this is also a part of the country that I’ve never visited, so everything I know comes from people who’ve lived there.
That basically leaves where I am and the handful of states nearby. I loved Montana and I even felt oddly comfortable in Wyoming, despite having the polar opposite of the political majority’s opinion. But the prevailing attitude in most of this area appears to be “Live and Let Live”, and I could easily acclimate to this. But as far as escaping this Day After Tomorrow-like weather, it’s probably not going to make all that much of a difference. So I guess I’m kinda stuck here.
I’m going to make some chili and curl up in a few hundred blankets.