I left Baltimore when I was twenty-three. I lived there for five years. It was scummy and small and boring. A lot of people who lived there thought they were artists. Public transit was awful. The museums weren’t any good. The harbor smelled like ass.
Here’s the thing about the weather: half the year the weather was nice. The other half was hot and humid. I remember having to shower a couple times a day because I would come home burnt and sweat-slicked. I had to change my T-shirts just as often.
But I’ll be god darned if it didn’t rain sometimes. And I’ll be god darned if there weren’t some clouds in the sky on any given day.
After Baltimore I went to Austin. Austin is bright and sunny and hot most of the time. I had a difficult time thinking because my mind was always aware of how disgusting my body felt in 100+ degree temperatures. Everything about Austin was great otherwise. But often I would think, “If only there were some clouds! Some rain! Lord!!!”
I moved to California after that—to the Bay Area. Here it is also sunny and warm a lot of the time. In Oakland I almost never see clouds. We get maybe a week or two of rain a year, mostly in December or January.
After twenty-seven years of research (hah!), I have concluded that under the sun I feel stressed out and confused and disoriented. It fogs my brain and makes me irritable. I become too aware of myself and I can focus on nothing else other than getting away from all the light.
Consider the protagonist of ‘The Stranger’, who shoots a dude because the sun is in his eyes. Dude ain’t thinking right! I’m not saying I’m going to accidentally blow someone away because of the sun, but I definitely get lost and forget what I’m doing or who I am—what with all that unabated sunshine in my face!
Even now I struggle to write this because my room faces west, toward the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and receives so much direct sunlight at sundown that it nearly makes me throw up. It will be another two or three hours till the sun disappears completely, and I feel well enough to read or write or even move around without feeling sick.
What is the opposite of seasonal affective disorder? Do I have this? (Does that even exist?)
I have not experienced a four-season climate in years. I miss it terribly. Whenever I visit Virginia, I am amazed that it can be sunny and then overcast and then rain all within the same hour.
If it were up to me, the world would look like purgatory. There would be mist and fog and overcast skies and some light rain throughout the day. God! That sort of weather is so good. It’s not sad, it’s just quieter. It feels really good to read or write or make some god darn soup on days like that.
Maybe I should move to the Pacific Northwest. (Maybe I already am??)