I’ve only lived three places in my life.
One was Chicago where, although there was some of the most barbarous weather south of the south pole, people tended to kind of shrug it off — as they did almost everything else. Baby born at home? Take it to the hospital when the game’s over. Head wound? Looks worse than it is most times … he awake? Business failed? You always wanted to travel … And so, when I moved to Wisconsin, at the tender age of 21, I was unprepared for the nearly salacious atmosphere of amazement, jubilation, and downright tongue-lolling arousal that greeted every cumulonimbus. People didn’t actually want tornadoes to touch down and blow up their houses, but they kind of wanted tornadoes to touch down and blow up their unattached garages. People didn’t actually want school to be closed by the blizzard of the century … but they actually did want school to be closed, and, in anticipation, bought seven gallons of milk and queued up eleven back-to-back episodes of Special Victims Unit. After a long time (34 years), I moved away from Wisconsin, to, as it turns out, the other place on earth where weather is porn.
Now I live in Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.
As I sit here (in Wisconsin, at a relative’s house), the sun shines brightly after a wimpy little blizzard scarcely deserving of the name “dumped” (they always “dump”) six new inches of snow on an already frosted landscape. I was to have been in Boston, but I missed the narrow window of opportunity, and now can’t go back until at least after the weekend, until End-of-the-World-Storm-Nemo has done its worst. I should be glad. But I’ve changed. I’m jealous of my family, about to participate in a branch-popping, road-clogging, light-quenching, hem-drenching big fist of a blizzard. I want all that drama. I want to see that mean North Atlantic face. I want to huddle with my nearest and say, it’s really coming down now, as if it would do anything else.
On Cape Cod, people still often fish for a living, or do other things that put them at the indifferent mercy of the elements. They speak of the weather the way they speak of boats and tides, with a rueful, respectful, and undeniably lustful approbation.
This is the day for meteorologists. The other reporters stand when they walk through the newsroom.
White collar crime?
It’s for sissies.
Give us weather, that’s what we want — the bigger and meaner the better. We want to be controlled.