Sometimes I wonder if I actually hate myself. That is the only possible reason for the fact that less than a week after publicly complaining about how crazy my children were making me – and just three days after I went back to work and they went back to school – I am taking them out of school and putting them in my minivan for a 10-hour drive to St. Louis, where, by the way, the high temperature today was 9 degrees.
Well, no, of course that’s not the real reason. The real reason is that my dearest friend is having her younger daughter baptized on Sunday, and I am honored to serve as Gloria Lucille’s godmother. I have no idea what this job really entails beyond, obviously, going to Etsy and buying her a onesie that says “The Goddaughter” on it á la “The Godfather,” but I am pretty sure I can handle it.
And although I am not eagerly anticipating the 10-hour drive, I am not worried about it either. I went to college in Missouri, so I have made this trip more times than I can even count. I know every inch of Interstate 55: three hours to Jackson, three hours to Memphis, four hours to St. Louis. Ruby has made it possibly even more times than I have because she goes with her dad all the time; in fact, she just got back from St. Louis in late December. Georgia has never been in the car for quite this long, but she’s easygoing and will happily watch hours of TV (as I am ashamed to admit I learned over the long holiday break). As long as I have DVDs, Kindle games, sippy cups full of chocolate milk, abundant Cheddar Bunnies, and a willingness to sing ridiculous songs for several hours, the kids will be fine.
What worries me, to be perfectly honest, is the cold. After a decade in that climate, I sort of learned to manage, and Ruby is used to it (see above w/re: frequent trips back), but Georgia is a delicate Southern flower who has never, ever been in weather this cold.
“Hey, so does Georgia have a decent winter coat?” Amy texted me.
“Sure,” I wrote back because come on; of course my kid has a coat.
Then I looked at the weather forecast in St. Louis. Holy crap, you guys. Georgia has a decent winter coat for New Orleans. That thing is going to be like a freaking tank top with a wind chill that supposedly feels like negative 15.
I was seriously debating ordering a snowsuit or something from Amazon and having it overnighted to our hotel. (I think Ruby had a snowsuit when we lived there? I don’t remember. She was 1 when we moved, and I have successfully blocked most of the winter of her early infancy.) But Amy reassured me that she had all of that stuff for me to borrow.
Mostly what I am slowly recalling is how much I dreaded going outside when I lived in Missouri. Winter is a thing in New Orleans, kind of, but there are only a few days a year when it’s truly too cold to go outside. In Missouri, it was months. As Amy and I are planning our time together, I am realizing just how much the weather is going to affect what we can do, where we can go, if we can travel. Snow is an inevitability, not a novelty.
Like I said, I kind of got used to it when I lived there. I have never been the kind of person who can be described as “hardy,” but when I would come back home to New Orleans over my winter breaks, I would laugh at the people here bundled up in puffer coats while I lounged in the sunshine in a T-shirt. “It’s 50 degrees outside,” I would mock my friends and family. “This is positively tropical.”
Less than a month after moving back home, I had regressed completely and was pulling on my heavy coat and whining when it hit 45 outside. After being here for almost exactly seven years now, I am back to a full-blown wimp about the cold.
I’m going to be brave, though. I’ll be able to withstand a weekend of cold, surely, and so will Georgia. And even if I’m not bringing the warm weather with me, I’m bringing King Cake and Bloody Mary mix, and that’s almost the same thing.
Stay warm, everyone!