Seasons and Back Sweat: A Love Story

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I tell myself I’m a morning person.

I tell myself this as my eyes strain to adjust to the brightness on my phone as I scroll through my twitter feed, and as I fumble with the latch on my window to allow that cool California air into my stale apartment at 6 AM.

It was cloudy with a moderate breeze, nothing out of the normal of a town so close to the beach, but just cold enough for me to excitedly pull on a turtleneck and black jeans before heading to campus.

10AM: As I exit class, I am greeted by sunlight and heat that were definitely not there before. I am instantly aware of how clingy my pants are and that my apartment is a good mile away.

2PM: “You literally look like you’re dying.” Yes, but what’s a girl to do, take off her pants? We’re not that progressive, yet.

I’m radiating heat and no longer care. Why should I? Worrying about anyone seeing one’s smallest flaw is painful and unnecessary; this projected judgment one assumes others make only prevents one from fully living each day. Besides, I looked awesome, and what does a shiny forehead really mean in the grand scheme of things?

You can always tell what time someone left home based on their choice in clothes. How do I know? That dampness of my lower back as I make the midday trek across campus. Daily weather in SLO is usually a super cool and unpredictable Bell curve except for when its not and you’re thrown for a loop when it starts raining and you’re wearing flip flops. Carrying around a light jacket just in case wasn’t working, because I needed that space in my backpack for snacks.

I grew up in Fresno, often referred to as the armpit of California, and rightfully so. The summers are hot, dry, and it is technically not safe to be outdoors after 9AM. Therefore, I loathe warm weather; the sun drains my energy and my skin burns after approximately six minutes of direct sunlight.

Since that weather is all I know, I think cold weather is indulgent. Gray skies and rustling leaves are the perfect natural filters to the melancholy music video that is my daily walk to class. It would take you 30 seconds to find a Pinterest board that explains, in detail, why fall is the best season, so I don’t have to why Summer is merely the awkward time between the end of Winter and beginning of Fall.

*Shameless study abroad plug* I lived in Paris from January to May of this year, and every moment I was there I was sublimely happy.

But, I soon realized, I did not know what winter was. It was dark outside by 5PM. I wore a scarf to take the garbage out. If the temperature rose above 40, people were shedding layers. Aside from excessive use of the word “like”, I was labeled that California girl due to my lack of winter clothing. The cold was not my ally; I merely adopted it. These people were born into it.

As my Facebook posts form this time period made painfully clear, I desperately wanted to fit in. Stocking up on cable knits and black ankle boots, I went boldly and coldly into La vie Parisien (“Parisian life” for anyone without Google translate).

I like who I was in that cold winter. I don’t want to get into the specifics of French culture (of course I do but it’s not the time nor place), but one always had to look presentable when venturing outdoors. Putting on multiple layers just to retain body heat forced me to do things with a purpose; I had to plan ahead and dress in a way acceptable to others. I accumulated a wealth of knickknacks that make me feel special whenever I wear them.

The cold is comforting; winter is the friend who recommends books they think you’ll like, who sends you cute pictures of cats and remembers how you like your tea.  

 

So yes, after meticulously checking my weather app, I will still shrug on my large, vintage denim jacket and endure the day. I will fight the good fight, submitting to unexpectedly high temperatures in the name of personal fashion and sheer stubbornness.

And you should, too. Just like smiling can subconsciously make you happier, dressing up, for yourself, can make you more confident. Back sweat is beauty. Temperature be damned, dress for the weather you want, not the weather you have.