Cold amnesia

They say that when a woman goes through labor, part of her mind acts in a state of amnesia, working as hard as it can to both process the experience and, at the same time, forget it entirely.

It’s mechanism for both coping and surviving. The pain can be so intense that it’s all you focus on, and if that focus stuck with a person for years, they would be hard pressed to agree to pregnancy a second time. The population would lower, survival of the fittest, etc.

If someone told me that the human body dealt with extreme cold in the same way, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Sitting here today, after experiencing a solid week of below freezing weather, I can vividly recollect what it feels like to be warm. I can imagine the heat bearing down from a 95-degree sun, what the sweat feels like as it drips off of my forehead and how hot grass and warm soil smell.

But six months ago, in the blazing heat of summer, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about being cold. I had completely forgotten the feeling of helplessness as a 30 mph wind cuts through your winter coat, hardening your muscles and whisking the breath from your lungs. I couldn’t remember how my hands cracked from the dry air, how my nose hairs froze, how every trip from house to car caused my eyes to well up with tears that found themselves dangerously close to freezing into salt-encrusted icicles.

Even from day to day, I forget. I leave the house without a stocking cap, forgetting the number each blast of wind did to my ears. I head outside to blow snow, ill-equipped, with gloves that have nearly worn through and no scarf.

I know better. Yet, I don’t.

I am eternally thankful for my home. For warm clothes. For having a reliable vehicle and for the first few cups of coffee every morning.

But I know in a few months, when the snow has puddled up and the grass is starting to show signs of life, I’ll have forgotten it all again.

Amnesia from the cold, I guess.

This was lovingly handwritten on December 22nd, 2008