“Chicago’s a great city and, maybe, it wouldn’t be so hard to go back if I lived in Baltimore or Minneapolis, cities with real winters, but I’m leaving California for a wind chill of 60 below.”
This was my son’s lament the night before his plane was scheduled to take him back to the windy city. I imagine more than a few California natives wondered, this week, what made them choose to attend school in a state where a single storm drops twenty-one inches of snow in a weekend. In Michael’s case it was a no-brainer. Pritzker is a top 10 medical school with amazing credentials and he was offered a full scholarship, meaning, if he’s frugal, no debt.
Mike is definitely a Southern Californian with a love for surf and sand, Mexican food, coffee houses with outdoor seating, palm trees, 80 degree winters, Disneyland, Universal Studios, bare feet, shorts, and a complete disregard for checking weather conditions. His memories of winter mornings include the Rose Parade, running on the beach, young moms balancing lattes and jogging strollers, eating Korean barbecue at one of the ethnic restaurants dotting the coastline and aging surfers cycling with long boards under one arm. Driving the freeways between Los Angeles and San Diego poses no greater challenge for him than patience during traffic jams and following the rules of the road. He was, until Chicago, a neophyte when it came to lightning storms, delayed flights, snow, bitter cold and, that terrifying of all road conditions, black ice.
I’m not sorry that Pritzker chose Michael, or that Michael chose Pritzker. I miss him terribly but I’m grateful for his change of venue and the not always so comfortable weather. Living here in the golden state is a privilege that is rarely appreciated until we experience inconvenience elsewhere. My son is no exception.
Here, in Southern California, we don’t have the glorious displays of autumn leaves they have in New England, although we have our own kind of beauty especially in areas close to the foothills, nor do we have the wonder of a first snowfall with the exception of those who live in the mountains. But we do have a marvelous, easy, relaxed climate in which to work and play. We do have warm, dry days and nights cold enough to sleep comfortably, days and nights so unique and lovely that even though we pay a great deal more for real estate that sits close to our neighbors and has less square footage than we would if we lived in other states, our population surges and most of our children come home to live.
We don’t think much about weather in Southern California. We don’t have to. But for Michael, an expatriate who elected to temporarily live elsewhere, “Weather is everything.”