Volume 16 • Issue 19 | October 07 - 13, 2003

Downtown Notebook



Falling for the whims of weather

By Wickham Boyle

We have had six months of extremely mercurial weather. We had the nearly diluvian month of June with more rain than has been seen in years. This was preceded by a windy, chilly May, that was abutted by a snowy April, then the muggy, relentless heat of July, and finally the heat lifts, and we are surrounded by air that caresses the spirit as it warms our skin, and just when we believe that we won’t have to use a mold eradicating unguent, the rains return with the tattered edges of Hurricane Isabel. Just when we believe we can’t take it a minute more, the sky clears and a blue mantle wraps us in the magic of Indian summer. What a wild ride.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am a weather fan and for this reason I shudder at my spouse’s desire to move to a warm place, a place where the weather is less changeable and not as strong as my emotions. I like weather that makes me feel present, like a horse you really have to ride, or a child who never lets you believe you know how to parent, or a city full of vicissitudes. I like upheaval, either because of a turbulent childhood, a love of drama, or the thrill of the chase. The fact remains; I like it a bit wild. And weather is no exception.

I have tried to inculcate my children into my love for what might be called in finance, “wild spreads in standard deviation.” I try to build into their psyches an expectation that things will radically and without warning swing from hot to cold, from easy to difficult and from good to bad, and back. Maybe all in one day.  I use the metaphor of weather to show why I think most people should not be medicated to have more manageable emotions, but rather that we need to have more emotions. I need to digress here to say I watched my mother who was bi-polar struggle with suicide on a regular basis until she was medicated successfully in her late 70s, so I do not say this in a glib or callow way.

I have watched my own emotional weather, which is quite extreme. Think of me as coastal Maine or Wyoming in the Grand Tetons where locals say, “If you don’t like the weather wait, five minutes.” And what I have gleaned is that my personal sun does come out with a regularity. Maybe my emotions shift due to the grubby kiss of a super sweaty child who is happy in a sprinkler. Perhaps it is a phone call from a single mom friend, who has been out of work for a while, saying I am the best because I sent some small money to fill her fridge before her kids come home from camp, maybe an editor told me I was not a total loser, or my husband snuck up behind me and kissed my neck or my son told me that my pasta would cost 20 dollars at Bubby’s and be sold out every night. Whatever — somehow some silly thing takes my dense humid, pallid personality and installs a cool breeze, then warm sunshine beams down on me for solitary seconds and my temperament changes.

Perhaps I love living in N.Y.C., Downtown, in the hubbub, because I see many other folks here who love the crazy wide swings in weather and we can meet each other face to face and smile or grunt or engage in long conversation. We can be whoever we are, in fact we can be all the people we are down here even if that means there are quite a multitude living under one brain.

So although these past months have not rung up as my favorites, they have allowed me to explore the deep recesses of my frustrations, joy and worry and to share those sensations. We live in the unmedicated weather pattern that is the northeast. Here’s a toast to big wide swings. May we all continue to be brave enough to endure.


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