There's a Reddit For That
Well, everyone, it’s time for an update on Chicago Round 2: The Wait for Winter. The wait is over, winter is here. And the transition from fall to winter was seamless -- seamless in that if you blinked you might have missed it, not seamless in that it was gradual or delicate. It was honestly kind of mean. One day I was crunching freshly fallen leaves under my feet, the smell of Apple Cider wafting through the air, and the next day those cute, crunchy leaves were trapped under a layer of ice and the Apple Cider was replaced with the smell of nothing. Well, maybe there’s a wintery smell wafting through the air but I don’t think it’s safe (or possible?) to inhale deeply enough in such cold temperatures to smell it.
I had been warned that this is how Chicago changes seasons: by slapping you in the face.
Thankfully, with this warning in the back of my mind and my Wait for Winter anxiety running at an all-time high, I got a winter jacket and boots before the first snow. I avoided Chicago’s seasonal slap in the face and instead got what I would consider more of a testy two-handed shove to the chest.
The seasonal slap in the face is pretty much the only thing Chicagoans can agree on when it comes to winter. I ask almost every person I briefly interact with what they think of Chicago winters and the responses are…… inconsistent.
“It’s not very snowy, it’s just unbearably cold”
“It’s not that cold, there just isn’t any sun”
“You get the sun, it’s the wind that’s the problem”
“Sure, you get days that are -50 but then you’ll get a random super nice day where it’s 30. And that - that’s what keeps me here.”
I try to remind myself that these are *their* experiences, presented to me through the prism of *their* cold weather traumas. It will be different for me. I’m not saying it won’t be traumatic, it will just be traumatic in *my* way.
When I explain that I just moved to Chicago from LA and this is my first winter, I’m mostly told “get a good coat, you’ll be fine.” I’m not sure if it’s the unmaskable fear on my face that prompts such a simple and supportive response but I definitely prefer it to the handful of people who have laughed in my face.
I don’t know what is making me do such thorough research for my winter preparation but no matter how many people I ask about winter and gather data on what to expect, it never seems to be enough. I have spent my entire life not worrying/caring/knowing about fill power in jackets, grams of insulation in boots, waterproof v. repellant v. resistant in... everything! I never read reviews of products online, I don’t like having the same clothes as everybody else and here I am spiraling down Reddit threads and Amazon reviews as I search for the perfect winter wear that has been most widely tested and endorsed by strangers.
Claudia from Minneapolis says these gloves are “warm and cozy” but Debrah from Boston says they’re “not good for city life.” I do live in a city but my environment is probably closer to Minneapolis. Hmm... I’ll table this item for now, keep the tab open and return to comparing the best thermal socks for walking outdoors but NOT HIKING. This is a different activity than commuting by foot and I WILL find the review that makes the distinction and rates the product based on that.
I feel like an investigator pinning red thread to various bits of information, trying to solve a LITERAL cold case.
But there is so much more to winter in Chicago than the cold. There’s also ice. It’s great to have warm, fur lined boots but you might as well be wearing Trader Joe’s bags on your feet if they don’t have a grip on the slippery sidewalks. The city at its core is incredibly strong. And I do mean actual abdominal strength. You have to if you want to stay upright on a train or bus that unexpectedly stops and jerks. I started working on my commuter core strength in the summer and thanks to that TRAINing, I have great control walking on slushy or icy sidewalks. My 6-pack is brought to you by the CTA.
I guess now, at the near of this post, is a good time to mention it’s only November. This cutesy take on living in Chicago’s winter is upsettingly premature and I have only scratched the surface of what a normal person needs in a cold environment. I have a jacket with 800 fill power, boots with 200g insulation and water resistant gloves, now it’s time for the big girl stuff: insulating blinds to trap the heat in my apartment, blankets to wrap around cold pipes, cans of soup in case of a snow-in and the willpower to eat them cold and from the can if need be (do you lose power in the cold?) I have no idea what to expect, but I’m sure there’s a Reddit for that.