Staying Soft, Despite It All

By Jaclyn Jermyn

Photo by Jaclyn Jermyn

Photo by Jaclyn Jermyn

Chicago winters are goddamn cold.

I knew this when I packed up two suitcases and moved here two years ago. But I am from Massachusetts, we know cold!
Right? Right!

Remember all of those stories about pilgrims freezing to death during their first winter? You imagine the bones beneath your feet everywhere you walk downtown because that just seems likely. You’ve never gotten the pleasure of hearing my father talk about the blizzard of ’78 and how he was stranded and rescued by a passing snowplow, for the third time in the same evening like I have. Winter sucks because I was never a “winter recreation” person like my brother.

So you pack a big coat and you suck it up because you’re a big girl now and you made the choice to move to another cold city. You could have gone to North Carolina.

The two coldest Chicago February’s on record were that of 1857 and 2015. This past February also ranks as the third-snowiest February on record, according to the Chicago Tribune.
So maybe I was wrong.
I call my mother on Sunday’s and beg for a little extra allowance because I don’t have enough sweaters. If there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that you’re never going to have enough sweaters here. This isn’t just “pack a big coat” weather.

Between those lake effect winds and the dismal walks to and from the blue line everyday, I can easily see why city life is enough to make a stone mountain out of anyone.

It’s not just the wind chill that will freeze you up.

Maybe it’s the fact that your friend’s friends don’t seem to like you and you don’t understand why.

Maybe it’s the fact that your boss can’t be bothered to write anything you say down.

Maybe it’s the fact that no matter how hard you scrub, you just can’t seem to get that weird soap scum off of the shower wall.

I hate to think that I don’t belong here.

I hate to think that each day is going to be a fight just to find my place because some days, I’m not going to have that much fight in me. It’s really hard to put on a brave face when there’s icy rain stinging your eyes and condensation has made the inside of your scarf smell like morning breath.

In all honesty, I don’t want the city to make me tough. I want the city to support me. I want to know that despite some bad days, I’m still meant to be here.  Despite the Weather Channel ranking Chicago the “6th coldest major U.S. city” as of 2014, this is still the city where I fell in love for the first time. Despite all those mornings my hair managed to freeze solid on the way to school, I have still managed to find friends that have supported me through my most dismal moments. Despite how bad the last winter got, I know I’m going to make it through another one.

So forgive me for saying this because it may seem out of line but I want the city to always keep me soft.