A Different Kind of Cold

Design by Helen Huynh

With the coming of the cold weather, I have been spending many long hours doing homework in front of the lovely fireplace in the Stiles common room. Some of my friends do the same, while others tell me to “get a life” and “touch some grass” and “every time I pass by, you’re in here—do you have nothing better to do?” 

I don’t, actually; I’m incredibly content drowning in my readings while my feet are warmed by the luxury of a fireplace that my apartment in freezing-cold Chicago never had. The flames make me nostalgic for miserably cold winter hangouts in my friend’s backyard, though thankfully without the overwhelming smell of smoke that still lingers in my puffer jacket. Although Chicago winters have a reputation for being unbearable, I much prefer them to New Haven’s. To me, there is nothing worse than a humid winter, and New Haven serves that on a silver platter: gray skies, biting chills, and wet cold that seeps into my jacket and my bones. 

You may be surprised that Chicago’s 6-month-long winters and 3 p.m. sunsets do have their charms. The sky is almost always a shining blue, and on days when it’s not, it is only because of the flurry of snowflakes filling the potholes and covering the driveways. The bright sun reflects off the pristine white snow, the lake freezes over and breaks off into jigsaw puzzle pieces, and the trees get wrapped in golden-stringed lights. And while it may get less than twenty degrees below freezing, every Chicagoan will tell you, “It’s not even that cold, it’s just the wind.” Thus, the beautiful, sunny winters of my hometown have not helped me here; this cold of New Haven is an entirely different kind of cold.

Some people, despite the comfort of a cozy fire and dark academia dreams, choose other ways of coping with the cold. To my surprise, as I embarked upon my dreaded walk to Science Hill while shivering in my sweater, I found that an impressive number of people decided to pretend that the weather was still lovely and the clouds were rays of sunshine rather than glooming shadows. These brave (or reckless) souls sat in the cold metal chairs of Beinecke Plaza and that one weird grassy part of Watson Center, clacking away at their keyboards like their fingers weren’t on the verge of turning blue. Maybe I don’t have a life, but do you still have feeling in your toes?

Even worse, I’ve seen people dress in everything from T-shirts to full winter gear—while I agree that a T-shirt (and even shorts!) in this weather is obscene, so is wearing a hat and winter coat. You just shouldn’t pull those out until you’re back from Thanksgiving break; you look silly (and like you’re from Florida). Man up. 

Others hole themselves up in Starr to study for their “midterm” exams (just call them tests, for the love of god), or shirk their responsibilities completely and go to Book Trader where they chat for hours instead of working on their essays. The libraries, it seems, get more and more full as the days get darker (don’t even get me started on daylight saving), and the smiles on people’s faces become less frequent. If they’re anything like me, they’re desperately trying to finish projects and p-sets and essays before the bender of Harvard-Yale begins, praying for a warmer, sunnier day to motivate them through the last week. 

Still others find the time to cozy up on their couches and watch fall movies with some hot cider and cinnamon sugar cookies. I wish that were me; rewatching Good Will Hunting has been on my to-do list for way too long. I promise that I did, in fact, try to “touch some grass”: I sat outside one of these days for thirty whole minutes. Let me tell you, while the Stiles courtyard is beautiful, especially as the leaves turn golden, I have never wanted to be in front of the fireplace more. 

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