I’ve lived close to 40% of my life in places that don’t have four distinct seasons, and winter has always been the one most noticeably absent. My teen and college years in Florida were summerlike for about ten and a half months a year, including most of the months we were in school. I’ve lived in Southern California for the last decade, and while I really do appreciate the appeal of the mild climate–and my hair is finally controllable here, thanks to the low humidity–the lack of variation seems to be contributing to a recurring sense of temporal displacement. In simple terms, I know it’s January, only a few weeks past Christmas, but I keep thinking it’s March already. Since I tend to be especially busy during the first three months of any year, you might imagine that feeling, even briefly, that I’ve lost a solid chunk of time would be distressing.
This time of year always throws me off a bit, but it feels more out of whack than usual this time around. As an accountant working on closing the business year and preparing for the annual audit, I know I’ll still be living with December 2012 for at least another few months. As a freelance book reviewer, I’ve just received a package of “for your consideration” galleys for March 2013. Once the holiday decorations are taken down and put away, there are few environmental cues here that it’s still wintertime, aside from the fact that it gets chilly enough to run the heat at night. It seems wrong to label your feelings as “the winter blues” when your environment neither looks nor feels like winter, but I think that’s an element of it too, although typically that means wanting winter to be over faster–I seem to want the opposite right now.
In all honesty, I don’t miss some of those wintry indicators. It’s nice not to go for days at a time without seeing the sun, and I’m perfectly fine not driving on snowy roads. And really, doesn’t the “winter wonderland” thing lose its charm for most of us once the holiday season winds down anyway? (Tell me the last time you sang “Let it Snow” in February.) One thing I appreciated about living in Memphis was that it was not business as usual when real winter weather hit; the few “snow events” that occurred each year would pretty well shut everything down so you’d be encouraged not to leave home at all until temperatures went back up. It was just enough wintertime, and I do miss that sometimes. Maybe I’m just pining for a couple of snow days to take a breather from it all.
We’re all familiar with the sense that time seems to speed up as we get older, but I don’t really like the feeling that I’m having lately that I’ve jumped over days at a time and lost my reference point for “present.” On the one hand, it is a bit reassuring to realize that the answer to “Where did the time go?” is that it actually hasn’t gone anywhere yet, and reset myself accordingly. On the other hand…well, I’m at a stage of life where I don’t want time to move any faster than it has to. My fear of fifty has been documented, and I’m pretty well aware that I have much more time behind me than ahead of me, thanks.
And so I remind myself, often, that we’re not even one month into the new year yet. I’ve got lots to do, but there’s still plenty of time to get it done.