I am not a fan of heat.
As an extrovert and a naturally-warm person, I get overheated easily. I am constantly shedding layers, sitting in front of fans, turning up the air, sleeping without blankets, without pants, with the AC set to sixty-three in the middle of winter, sitting outside in thirty-degree weather only to immediately get too hot the moment I walk inside, and just in general cursing my warm nature. It is for these reasons, and the fact that I grew up on a mountain in rural Virginia, that I love winter.
I love snow and the Christmas season. I love bundling up in scarves and coats, sipping hot chocolate or coffee as my cheeks turn rosy with cold and snow crunches beneath my booted feet. I love early mornings in winter, where the world is frosty and quiet. I love late nights waking up to snow, feeling as if my bed is that much comfier because of the blanket of white outside my window. I love everything about it.
And yet, I chose to go to college in Jackson, Mississippi.
Honestly, I didn’t like Jackson when I first moved here. Not only was it too hot, it was too loud, too different to the quiet mountain life I was used to. A lot of people say Jackson isn’t a true city–maybe not, but to a girl who’s used to knowing all her neighbors by name and driving half an hour away to get to the nearest movie theater, it more than qualifies.
I got used to Jackson as time went by. Parts of it even started to grow on me–the hipster Fondren district, the quaint churches, the fact that I was now a minority (which, strangely, I always felt more comfortable with), the colloquialisms I was unused to, the local farmer’s markets and grocery stores, the pot-hole ridden streets I joked about with my friends, the occasional thick forest laden with secrets. It was all so new and, as such, felt like an adventure.
But the thing I would never grow to like about Jackson, or the Deep South as a whole, was the fact that winter barely existed.
Mississippi is hot nine months out of the year. Temperatures in summer rise to the hundreds on bad days and settle in the mid-to-high nineties normally. It doesn’t begin to cool off until late October or early November, and even then, it’s not by much. Winter is scarce here, and I find myself wearing shorts and t-shirts in January as my weather app tells me it’s seventy four outside. I wake up sweating, the fan on above me, and wish for the predictable temperatures of my hometown. But what’s even worse is the absence of snow.
I love snow, as mentioned earlier. Some of my favorite childhood memories encompass me and my brothers building snow ramps for sledding thrills or shedding our bulky winter layers in the frost and ice as we slipped and slid along the uneven ground. My overall best memory of snow is the night my brothers and I stayed up well past our bedtime to get a glimpse of a lunar eclipse. Our driveway had completely iced over after a snowstorm from earlier that day, and we went out in slippers and pajamas and skated across the frozen gravel as the sky above was blacked out with the absence of the moon.
I haven’t seen snow in a while.
When I was back in Virginia for Christmas, it was uncharacteristically warm, as if I’d brought the mild winter temperatures of Jackson with me. It was still cold, mind you, but never below forty degrees, and I was sorely disappointed. Snow fell the day after I flew back to Jackson. My departure apparently allowed it to return, and again I was disappointed.
Last weekend, it snowed in Jackson, but I wasn’t there. I was farther south at Christian’s house. Though I love her house and her family, the fact that I had missed snow once again saddened me. Jackson rarely got snow, and I doubted it would see it again this winter. Temperatures had already started to rise; Mississippi headed toward spring full-speed as it did with all warm seasons, and I knew winter had passed me by.
Sometimes I dream about where I’ll go when I graduate. I want to go to Japan, ideally, but if that cannot happen right away, I’m going north.
Far, far north.