The last and first season of the year does not tiptoe. It announces its approach in no uncertain terms, the way my mother would TAKE. VERY. HEAVY. STEPS. as she descended into the basement during my teenage birthday parties. Neither of them want to take you by surprise, exactly, but they’re not going to go away just because it makes you uncomfortable.
On Halloween, I went out in fishnets. When I woke up the next morning, Starbucks had already unleashed its red holiday cups. The calendar may still read “Autumn,” but corporate America and Jack Frost wait for no one, least of all me.
I’m an asthmatic, and cold is one of my triggers. Icy air wraps its tentacles around my lungs and squeezes, gently at first but with ever-increasing pressure, until I can’t take in a full gulp of air and I’m wheezing.
My medium-fair, Georgia-raised skin is not built for gale-force winds or ice that hurtles from the sky. My chin and eyebrows turn to snakeskin, my cheeks become a shade of pink usually only mastered by toddlers sneaking into their mothers’ makeup bags or clowns, and my nail beds suck.
And, luckily for everyone around me, when the temperature plummets my sweat glands go into overdrive. I wear too many layers and then I walk fast and then I’m red-faced and damp whenever I get wherever I’m going, painstakingly-applied deodorant be damned.
And my hair, my God, my hair, develops a life of its own in the winter. My bangs grow out while my roots go limp and the wiry tresses that remain have enough static to power a small nation, should someone engineer a way to harness it all.
But when I can see my breath, I pretend I’m a dragon, and the stars always shine a little brighter when the night is cold. Frigid wind blows right into your face, daring you to back down, give in, give up, go home, and when you don’t, you’ve won. Two chilly noses rubbing against one another generates a specific kind of heat, and there is magic in the first snowflake.
Winter is on its way; it told me. It whispers to me on my walk home, blowing the new-fallen leaves into miniature tornadoes and turning my ears pink. I’ve unearthed my hats, and scarves, and gloves. I’m proactively moisturizing, and I have my inhaler at the ready.
Winter is coming, and quietly, carefully, I think I’m almost ready for it. Are you?