hot or not

I am a future climate migrant. At some point, when the time is right, I'm going to leave Los Angeles and never look south again. I'm going north - far north. I'm going somewhere cold - very cold. I already have the city picked out. It's in a state I've never even been to. 

I started researching certain things that are important to me in terms of lifestyle, climate, community, and geography - and I landed on this place. And I knew. And I know it's wild to plan to move somewhere when you've yet to even see it in person. But what the fuck else is life if not adventure? It's just me. So why the hell not?

Only my closest friends know where I'm headed. When I tell anyone who doesn't know me very well where I'm going to move, they react predictably enough. They tell me I'm crazy, I don't know what I'm getting myself into. They'd never go back to the cold and the snow, blah blah blah. But when I tell people who know me pretty well, they smile. A lot of them have been there. "Oh my god," they say. "That's perfect for you. You'll love it. It's so beautiful." They tell me they can see me there, with my big dog and my million coats and my soul-deep need for tree lined streets. They know what it will mean to me, to escape LA and finally, for the first time ever in some ways, start designing a life I've chosen. 

I know in my bones that I am built for cold weather. I'm (re)training for it even now. When I walk home from work most nights I'm down to just wearing a hoodie. My hands and arms go almost numb in the night air, but it doesn't bother me. It invigorates me, and excites the part of me that has forever felt compelled to return to the cold. When I look at fall foliage and snowscapes my heart aches. Like I genuinely feel I'm missing out on a huge, important part of life: seasons. I'm such a fish out of water here, with LA's two months of cool weather and ten months of miserable heat. 

When it comes to people and climate, it's largely a greener-grass, human nature thing. I know that. People want what they can't have; they're drawn to what seems exotic and different. It's rare to meet someone who grew up in the cold who wants to go back to it - provided they had enough time there. Provided they had their fill.

I did not have my fill. 

I was uprooted from gorgeous St. Joseph, Michigan at the age of ten and dropped down in dusty, hot Scottsdale, Arizona before I even understood what I was losing. And in 1985 it was still dusty, still largely in development. I was pulled from a land of lakes and trees and seasons and weather - a place where fail smelled like dry smoke and real, live apple trees - and pushed against my will into a sterile city of stucco and strip malls. I hated Arizona the second I saw it. I hated it every minute of every day for the nearly two decades I was there. The one exception, the one single thing that made it tolerable for a few months out of every year: Sabino Canyon in the monsoons. 

We moved to Arizona in the summer before school started. Just days before I had been climbing trees in the woods behind my brick house in Michigan. Now my main after-school activity was just fucking surviving the walk home in 100+ degree heat. We lived too close to my elementary school for there to be a bus I could take. And my mom was either too drunk, too depressed, or too depressed about being a drunk to come pick me up in the car. 

I never acclimated to the heat. Not even the slightest bit. I couldn't handle the temperature enough to participate in any school sports. It made me miserable. When I got older, I learned to estivate. I'd sleep all day, stirring only when it dropped to a chilly 80 degrees at dusk. The only - only - thing I ever liked about Arizona was the sunsets, which have no parallel in the whole world, and will be with me forever. Okay and maybe the trail running. But fuck snakes and mountain lions. 

And now here I am in lovely, sunny California. I am supposed to be thrilled at my good fortune. I am supposed to feel lucky for this "beautiful" weather I've landed in. But as far as I'm concerned, it's not much better than Arizona. Los Angeles is a haze of glaring sunshine, chrome, and now, thanks to its shitholed economy and disgusting wealth gap, trash both literal and cultural.

Save for a few rich neighborhoods and parks, there is no shade here. Just cracked sidewalks and cars and cars and more cars and cars and... And it's way, waayyy too hot, for too many months out of the year. Climate change hath wrought what we have let it wrought. And it's only going to get worse.

There's a fantastic Sunday Read podcast on The Daily about climate migration. About where people will be going in the next ten years, when the southern half and the coasts of this country become all but uninhabitable due to searing heat, wildfires, and rising oceans. If you think I sound like a kooky Cassandra, do some research. Tens of millions of people are going to be on the move soon. And I will be one of them. And if what I'm hearing and learning is true, the place I have in mind is going to be an extremely desirable destination. Certain areas of the country, now off-putting to so many because of harsh winters, are starting to become more temperate due to climate change. The extreme cold won't be so extreme in another ten years or so. 

And I, my friends, am going to beat the rush there. Me and my big fucking dog and my dumb fucking blog. You're all coming with, right?