Old Man Winter and I

Hibernation makes perfect sense to me.

It’s not that I fear the cold. I know I have a coat. I have a warm house to come back into. I have a warm car. It’s probably not cold enough to actually cause me harm unless I stay out for hours on end in a tank top and shorts. I just don’t like it.

I think of Old Man Winter kind of like a really weird roommate.

And not the happy, crazy kind of weird. I’m talking about the kind of weird that eats bowls of ice cream with ketchup while sitting on the sofa intently watching Richard Simmons sweat to the Oldies. I’m talking about the kind of weird that calls your mom Gladys (when your mom’s name is Naomi) and calls her up every now and then to make sure she knows your diet hasn’t been very nutritious lately. I’m talking about the kind of weird that sets an alarm to wake up at 2 in the morning to go and peel the celery. The kind of weird that makes you walk into the room, see that she’s there, and then back out of the room before she notices you’re home.

That’s how I feel about cold weather.

My first reaction is usually, “Oh, no, It’s here,” followed up with, “Why? Why is it cold? Why do I live in a place that makes me feel like this every winter? Why haven’t I moved to New Mexico?” It has its moments. It makes for a festive Christmas. It’s very pretty in the snow. But there’s still a part of me that just looks out the window and wonders if there will ever be a comfortable time to go outside again. I’m not afraid of the cold – I’m just… awkward… about it.

Which is why I rather like the thought of hibernation. It’s like saying, “Oh. Winter. I’m not sure I like you. But you’re leaving – so I’ll just wait for you to leave. And while I’m waiting, here’s a pillow and a sandwich.” Now, what’s uncomfortable about that? Absolutely nothing.

Maybe I should just go get some snow pants and a spine. Or maybe I just need a sandwich and a pillow. Or maybe I should cancel that plane ticket to New Mexico… ♦

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A Letter to the Downstairs Neighbors

Dear Kind Souls,

I would like to thank you for your continual patience with us. I realize we are rather loud. Please understand: there are 6 of us up here, and only 3 are above 20 years old. Have you ever seen that many teenage women in one room? Things can get messy. And right now, 5 of those 6 are dealing with final exams. All without the aid of caffeine.

It may surprise you, dear neighbors, that none of us drink. None of us do drugs. We are all physically stone-cold sober. But I’m sure you’ve wondered a time or two what was going on up here. I’ll tell you the truth. We don’t drink because we’re Mormon. But more to the point, we don’t drink because we don’t need to. It’s in our blood already, somehow. We were born to scream strange things at each other and collapse on the floor with little warning because gravity suddenly switched directions. I’m not sure how this happens, but I hope you don’t hear the laughter too loudly through the floor.

So please know that we care. Even when we’re yelling at each other, we care. Even when we’re laughing at each other, we care. Even when you hear the pitter-patter of feet chasing one another in circles or the slamming of someone’s head in the shower door over and over, or the off-key singing of “Happy Birthday,” or sudden realizations of, “I’m not wearing any pants!”…we care. And we frequently wonder what our downstairs neighbors must think of us.

Try to think well of us. And while I can’t promise the madness will end any time soon, you’ve never yet come storming upstairs to confront us with a hockey mask and a chainsaw. And for that, we stand in awe.

With love,

219. ♥

Driving Submarines

Last night I was in the kitchen, talking with my friend Brian, when my roommate Brianna poked her head out of the bedroom door. She was on the phone.

“Can you drive a submarine?” she asked us.

Man, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that. Brian and I exchanged a look – a look that confirmed that yes, Bri might be crazy, and no, neither of us could drive a submarine. She clarified that she meant the verb itself – whether a submarine could be driven, or whether it should be piloted. Brian and I, in our expertise, decided that a submarine could do pretty much whatever it wanted to do, and the verb really didn’t matter much at all. Bri seemed to accept that answer, and ducked her head back into the room, door closing.

A few minutes later, conversation in the kitchen died down a bit, and we heard Brianna’s voice in the bedroom – still on the phone – saying, “Well, Brian and Rachel said they could drive a submarine.” We decided to do some eavesdropping. The next thing we heard was, “With a 4-foot wooden dowel?” and just a few minutes later, Bri reappeared. “Is a toe considered a limb?”

Only 10 minutes later, I came into the bedroom to hear her ask, “Now, when you say you don’t cut people…”

Now the question on my mind is, how worried should I be? ♦

An Answer to Prayer

I was kneeling by the side of my bed the other night, silently praying, when I heard my roommate Bree drop her phone from the top bunk. I paused my prayer to chuckle a bit as I heard it bounce against the wall. I started praying again, and heard her fishing around for the cord, hoping to pull the phone back up to the top bunk. I paused again to laugh.

And then I heard a mighty “Whump-bump-babumm-sliiiiiiide-CRASH!”

I opened my eyes and peered into the darkness. Like manna from heaven, Brianna had fallen from her own bed and onto my own. And as I knelt by the side of the bed laughing, she quietly asked, “Was I the answer?” ♥

A Dating Mishap (in which I get hit in the face with a bike)

The scene opens on the beautiful Provo River. It’s a shallow, winding section of the river, with a bike trail by the side. Alex and I are biking peaceably, chatting about the scenery and the inherent evils of suburbia. An ice cream truck can be heard in the background, along with the delighted screams of children playing.

Enter Colby, my roommate. She is also on a date, looking terrified for her life on the back of a tandem bike. She doesn’t notice us as they pass by us, headed the other direction, but Alex and I laugh at her less-than thrilled expression. We will later discover that this is not because of the quality of the date, but because the tandem bike is travelling much faster than she would prefer. The ice cream truck passes again, playing its strange little tune.

We pass a deaf old woman walking an obese beagle, idly wondering if the fluffy white lap-dog running up ahead also belongs to this woman. Alex diagnoses her with diabetes, based on the swelling in her ankles. I decline to point out the size of my own ankles, which are far from delicate. We approach a bridge, and the underpass sends us quickly down a dip and around a bend. We merge, putting our bikes close to the low wall on the right, which keeps us from falling into the river, and I follow Alex through the tunnel.

Enter Paul, bicycle enthusiast and all-around speed-demon. He has never been on this trail before. Barreling down the trail toward us, Paul sports a black T-shirt, a collapsible pedal-bike, and a reckless abandon for human existence. As Paul rides under the bridge at about 20 mph, the blind spot created by the trail bend reveals a small, terrified me, moving rapidly toward my doom. Time stands still just long enough for both of us to turn handlebars – too late – and mouth the words, “Oh, no.” Paul’s left bike handlebar collides painfully with my left wrist, and the side of his head becomes acquainted with my jawbone. Chaos and pain reign supreme for a few moments.

Shortly after assessing the carnage, Paul rides off, Alex helps me put my shoe back on (which has been knocked off in all the kerfuffle), and we walk to the river. Recovering from the shock, I chill my wrist in the river while we wait for a friend to pick us up. The sound of the ice cream truck returns, sounding much less friendly.

While my friend Hillary drives me home, Alex rides my bike back to my apartment, hitches a ride back to the trail, rides his own bike home, brings me a smoothie and an ace bandage, rents a movie, and in general, saves the day. I, on the other hand, ice my wrist with some frozen fruit and sit like a lump on the couch. My left hand is broken (although we won’t know it until the following day), and I’m done with biking. ◊

On the Delicate Art of Aging

Somehow, I have become old.

Personally, I do not feel old. In fact, I would certainly not consider myself old, regardless of how I feel. I’m 23. This is the “prime” time here. And that’s how I feel – like I’m in the prime of my life!

Unfortunately, Provo has struck with deadly stealth and cunning. I’m not the oldest of my roommates, but most of them are 19. I’m not the oldest in my ward, but I’m definitely one of the oldest. And a few days ago, I had a conversation with a roommate who was complaining about how awkward a party was. She described meeting her uncle’s brother there, and being royally creeped out being at a party with him. She felt he had no right to be there in the first place, because he was definitely too old to be at a college party. “How old is he?” I asked.

“27,” she said (with a slight shudder).

I looked at her for a second, then said, “Most of my friends are about that age. On average. Quite a few are older.”

The look of horror on her face was actually quite entertaining. It got better when she tried to salve my aging heart with the comment, “Well, everyone else there was about 19 or 20, so you know, he shouldn’t have been hanging around.”

The horror increased when I told her I had those friends back when I was 19 and 20 – in fact, that’s when I met most of them. Many of them are now buying homes and other such responsible, adult-like things. I got a similar reaction when I told another roommate (also 19) that I was going on a date Saturday with one of said friends. For some reason, anyone over 24 seems ancient to these girls. It seems quite odd to me; I’ve never really considered anybody “old” until they’re 40 – and even then, it’s just “too old for me to date,” not “genuinely old in a respect-the-elderly type of way.” Which might explain why I actually tend to hide my age to look older, not younger: I’ve found that sometimes even the “elderly” 27-year-old still holds weird paradigms for age boundaries, and doesn’t want to look creepy hanging out with “youngsters.”

Now I feel like I shouldn’t reveal my age lest my neighbors take pity on me and buy me a walker, or ask to see me pop out my dentures. If I start baking cookies, I may be tagged with a “granny” stigma. But there’s not much I can do at this point; the rent is cheap, and so is my paycheck. This is where I am, and this is where I will stay. With any luck, I can impart of my sage wisdom on the next generation before I fling down the curtain and join the choir invisible. ♣