Twenty Two

I might as well come right out and say it… today is my birthday.

Slogging through six inches of snow was not how I imagined spending my first day of being twenty-two.  But this is Minnesota, and Minnesota does what it wants.

On this day last year, I was in Oxford, England.  How many people can say they spent their twenty-first birthday in Oxford?  (British people aside, that is.)  It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.  I splurged on shopping, toured some of the colleges, and had my first drink at the Eagle and Child pub.  It was quite the adventure, and you can hear all about it (and see pictures!) on my old study abroad blog.

My twenty-second birthday is definitely not as epic, but still has been incredibly special.  My mom came to visit yesterday.  We drove up the road to Alexandria and went antique shopping, wandered around town, and had a special dinner at an expensive restaurant.  We sat eating for several hours, enjoying each other’s company and opening cards and gifts.  The day ended relaxing in her hotel, where we did some online shopping.

I spent the night in the hotel and had the joy of commuting to campus in five inches of snow.  The local school district cancelled everything today, but the University never closes.  I keep telling myself that God just wanted to drop LOTS of natural confetti to celebrate my special day… it’s a nice thought, but not super effective.

Outside of the normal Monday routine, do I have anything special birthday plans?  Not really.  All my normal Monday night events were cancelled due to the ghastly weather.  So it looks like I’ll be staying in and watching movies with the roommates.  It’ll be nice.  I’ll wear comfy clothes, eating goodies, and avoiding homework because…

I’ll also be rocking out to the following song in my head, even though I absolutely loathe it.  But it’s my birthday.  I’m twenty-two.  I’m going to break all my rules.  (Then go back to loathing it tomorrow.)

The right to complain

Minnesotans have every right to complain about the weather.

Sorry, other parts of America.  I know that you’ve had some unprecedented weather-related incidents this winter.  Snowstorms in the South, unusual low temperatures, etc.  I understand, but remain fairly unsympathetic.

In Minnesota, you quickly learn the difference between the different kinds of winter storms.

First, there are snowstorms, which are exactly as they sound and result in heavy amounts of snow.

Second, there are blizzards.  Sometimes, blizzards involve snowfall, but for the most part, they are significant because of wind.  Whiteout conditions occur, limiting visibility.  High winds push the temperature down significantly.

This year, a third term has been inducted into winter weather vocabulary : the Polar Vortex.  Basically… these occur when the weather from Canada is dumped on Minnesota, resulting in extreme subzero temperatures.  In a Polar Vortex, only a few minutes of exposure can easily lead to frostbite.  Lengthy exposures lead to hypothermia and potentially death.

We’re in the midst of the third Polar Vortex this winter.  Although, in reality, it has felt like one constant stream of terrifying cold.  For a solid month, the high never reached above zero.  Where I live on the open prairie, the wind always blows.  When the high is already below zero, the windchill temperature plummets.  In January, we basically had three straight weeks where it was negative thirty.  I stayed indoors for two straight days because going outside could kill me.  One of my classmates is from Alaska, and he informed me the other day that winters here are on par with ones he experiences back home.

Do you see?  Do you now understand?

Minnesotans have every right to complain about the weather.

We endure the ungodly conditions.  We brave the roads in blizzards.  We wake up in the wee hours of morning to shovel our driveways.  We carry on, month after month, until Spring finally comes.

Unfortunately, Spring here doesn’t usually arrive until mid-April.  Which means I’ve still got a month and a half to exercise my right to complain.

To all of you in warmer climates, enjoy it.  You don’t know what you’re missing–and be thankful for that.