If you count my bra (something I never wear in Barbados) I have 5 layers of clothing on my upper body. I’m still cold. The wind cuts through me, and the damp penetrates even when I’m sheltered from the wind.
Why did England in February seem like a good idea?
I suppose it’s better than going straight to the French Alps for skiing. Our bodies have a chance to get acclimatized, and not just to the weather. This is the first time in almost six months that I have worn long pants, long sleeves (asides from a rash guard for surfing), a jacket, or socks and shoes.
In January in Barbados, I was complaining about the cold, wearing a wrap in the evenings, occasionally even sitting inside on the sofa instead of at the table on the veranda. It was a cool 28C in the day and a downright chilly 23C at night. That few degrees lower than the norm made a big difference.
How quickly we acclimatize! In British Columbia, 23C would have been a nice summer day, or a hot spring one. I’ve lived in Northern BC where there might be a negative sign before that number in the winter; in Northern Ontario where the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit becomes moot at minus forty.
Already, after a week, my body is adjusting. I’ve peeled off a layer or two, and sometimes I even feel, dare I say it, warm! Yet Scott and I ask each other, rhetorically: Why would we live anywhere else when we can live in Barbados?
Yet often, it’s what you get used to. After witnessing the edges of a friend’s partner’s irrational, angry outburst, I asked her, “Why do you put up with it?” She looked at me in surprise, as if she’d never considered that question, never thought that there was an option. It was what she’d got used to, bit by bit, over the years. She was acclimatized.
It was the same with my children’s father. Over 30 years, I slowly got used to his job being more important, his opinion being more important, his wants being more important. Even at the end, I felt he was a great guy, a strong partner, 99% of the time. But 1% of the time is still 3 or 4 times a year.
No one else ever saw his furious blowups, so no one ever asked me, “Why do you put up with it?” It was only at the end that I woke up. Maybe it was because I just couldn’t figure out, that last time, what it was I was doing “wrong.” Maybe it was because my daughter’s dog got between us, leaning against my legs, growling at him. Maybe it was because one of the things he shouted was, “Why do you make me so angry!?!”
Even though it seemed to end the same way as alway, with me crying and him apologizing, comforting me, I finally told him, for the first time, no more. We weren’t going to pretend it hadn’t happened, and it wasn’t going to happen again. He needed to go get some counselling, deal with his anger.
I suppose he liked his climate the way it was. Two months later, he moved out, and in with the girlfriend I didn’t know he had.
And I was acclimatized, too. I would have taken him back, and I mourned for what many considered much too long. It took time to adjust to the new climate, to brave the cold winds of loneliness, to find my new layer of independence.
Now, I live in Barbados. The weather is beautiful, tropical. My man loves me, respects me, admires me, and I reciprocate.
I am strong, I am brave, and I can face any weather— but I really like my current climate!