The Cold Does Not Know Me

The heat knows me, my grandma once told me as she casually flipped the chicken with her hand notwithstanding the oil jumping a foot into the air (I had accidentally dropped water in the pan).

A month later, I found myself thinking, The cold does *not* know me. Followed by, How quickly does frostbite set in?

The Odds I Faced…

February in Chicago.

For a Texan, it might as well have been the North Pole. Especially when said Texan forgot to pack a winter hat and gloves and didn’t bother with a second layer of pants. The only winter hat I ever wear belonged to my brother…belonged because it stopped fitting his head ten years ago. I do have gloves, but having spent a month in Mexico where the coldest it got most days was 60 degrees, they simply didn’t cross my mind.

Not a problem, however, because I was only in Chicago one day for a science outreach event. Fly in Saturday. Fly out Saturday. My original Friday flight had been cancelled due to “winter weather,” whatever that meant. Luckily, I only needed to be in Chicago for my portion of the event, a two-hour window which I could make even if my new flight was delayed for a couple hours. Everything was accounted for, no need to even pack a carry-on.

What I wasn’t counting on was for my Uber driver to abandon me a mile from my destination. Normally, I love a good walk, but in this case, I faced two problems. First, I don’t know how to survive the cold. Is it safer to walk on the potentially deep snow or the potentially icy path? Second, this was a seminary campus about forty minutes out of the city…if I fainted from cold exhaustion who would find me?

I soon found out the answer when the security car (and later a second one) drove past me. Apparently, it wasn’t concerning that a) a strange woman—this is a school for future priests, aka men—was walking down the road of this remote campus, or that b) a person without gloves or a hat was walking in 14 degree weather alone.

The Survival Plan

As I walked around the gate—the reason my Uber driver gave up trying to get me to the building—I zipped all three of my jackets to my neck. No need to panic, hundreds of thousands of people survive the snow every winter. Ten minutes into the walk I had developed a routine.

A. Warm hands in pockets.

B. When lack of feeling in ears becomes concerning, place warm hands over ears.

C. When lack of feeling in hands becomes concerning, rub them against your frozen thighs—that tingling sensation can’t be a good sign.

D. Repeat.

I instinctively took note of my supply of water and spots of shade—essential to survive a walk through the desert, but perhaps not as important for the snow. As it was, all I knew to do was warm my extremities one by one and compose this very blog post as I walked. A writer to the end.

I Survived

I’m back in Texas now and the cold still does not know me. Currently, I’m wearing three layers inside, because I can feel the cold just from looking out the window (it’s 30 degrees). I did make it to my event. It felt like a dream given I was in and out in a few hours, but the adrenaline from my potentially-near-death experience assures me it happened.

Really, I was never in any real danger. I know people who’ve actually had near-death experiences—leaping over a canyon onto a ledge in high wind, breaking a leg on the top of a secluded, snowy mountain…—but I haven’t quite reached that level of coolness yet.

I do have a couple more potentially-near-death experiences (one involves getting lost in the Australian outback), so if those are cool enough for you, then subscribe to the blog, I’d love to tell them to you.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading! Until next time!

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