Last year, I said goodbye to the palm trees of my hometown Edinburg and the natural springs of Austin, Texas to move to Philly. Just out of college and with a new gig, I was ready to take on the northeast.
Then it got cold.
That whole it’s always sunny in Philadelphia thing? Yeah, that’s fake.
I’m from south Texas, from a region called the Rio Grande Valley where cities consistently top “Hottest Cities” lists and it snows about every 10 years or so during freak cold fronts. But we’re not talking blizzards. We’re talking not even enough to make a snowball. Snow angels aren’t a thing. The book Environmental Physiology reports that where I grew up is hotter than Devil’s Island in Guiana when considering all climate factors.
So, even Philly in 40 degree weather is cold for me because I basically grew up on the devil’s island in the depths of hell and in the summers everything was on fire and I loved it.
You may be wondering why I moved here. I ask myself that all the time while buried under more layers of clothes than I have ever worn in my entire life. I feel like I’m always doing laundry.
My misery is not a Philly thing, so please don’t come for me. It’s definitely a weather thing. Living in Texas for 22 years left me ill prepared when the weather in my new city moved from an enjoyable 70 degrees to 40 very quickly within a month.
My biggest misstep? I didn’t have the essentials. Like a coat that was actually made for non-Texas winters and shoes that weren’t slip on sneakers or casual boots. (Let’s be clear: not cowboy boots. I know I’m from Texas but that’s not really my vibe.) It wasn’t even November yet, and I was trying to figure out how I could budget in a whole new wardrobe. All of my clothes were useless to me. My new best friend is Uniqlo’s Heattech clothing. A friend bought the ultra-warm version to go to Iceland in the dead of winter. That’s what I wear everyday.
When I moved into my apartment with large windows in June, I was so excited. But only because I had no idea that I would eventually be climbing onto my window sills to tape pieces of plastic that were bigger than my 5-foot nothing frame to them. It was a disaster. After two hours of taping, I didn’t even actually seal my windows. I just made giant plastic bubbles over each window. But my apartment does feel slightly warmer.
Philly winter 500, cold Texan .5.
Last year, I would express my discomfort with the weather and people would laugh and say, “Wait for February.” They were right. It is significantly colder now, and I am laughing at the person I was just a few months ago. I’m laughing almost as hard as my Uber driver did when I told her I felt like I was adjusting to the weather way back then. I wish I could tell her that I’ve hardened. But only slightly.
I’m laughing about how I instantly hate my outfit when I add a jacket, but I wear a jacket every day now. I’m laughing at how weird shaped my head looks when I wear a beanie. I’m laughing at how it was 80 degrees on Christmas in my hometown and my mom made me hot chocolate. (Thanks, Mom.)
On particularly cold days, after riding the Patco two stops to work so I can avoid a 15 minute walk in what I grew up thinking were Antarctic temperatures, I get to field “It’s cold out there, isn’t it?”’s and pitying “How are you?”’s with smiles and “Oh it’s fine”’s while internally screaming and thinking about how one of my coworkers called me a “Texas-shaped ice cube.”
To everyone back in Texas who claims they love the cold because they get to dress cuter: You like Texas cold. You like when the temp falls below 60 degrees because you can wear jeans and a long sleeve and not overheat. If it was really cold, you would look like the Michelin Man. You would not feel cute.
There’s one exception: Pups in winter gear are very cute. No complaints there.