I like to define the year by seasons. If you live in the north you get to experience all four of the seasons. You get fall, winter, spring, and summer. If you live in Florida you have dry and wet season based on the amounts of rain you get. I always define my year based on two seasons. There is baseball season and there is winter, and boy do I hate winter. I hate cold weather. I hate not being able to watch a baseball game on television. I hate missing out on stories about players. I hate not being able to pinpoint a day on  the calendar when the closest ballpark has a really cool promotion going on at their stadium. To me that is like people marking holidays or birthdays. It’s a shopaholic marking the next special item coming out or a major sale. I’ve even decided that each year my summer vacation is going to be crossing off ballparks on my list that I haven’t been to. This will be my second season doing so as I head out to the west coast for the first time.

That being said I will say that I’ve been thinking about a few things I miss about winter. I hate freezing temperatures but every year that I was in college I would actually look forward to Christmas break. I would get to go home and actually wear my warm clothes. I’d get to wear a jacket and could rotate the warm hoodies that I owned. I could wear gloves and a stocking cap. When I was living in Florida this was really the only time of the year I would even need to wear jeans. But just like anything it’s only nice because it’s temporary. I wouldn’t mind when my friends and family would make fun of me for being a Florida boy when I would complain about the cold.

As the years wore on the trips got shorter. I was no longer in college. It was mostly for a car repair or for Christmas. I did have to return to the cold Midwest for two years on two separate occasions. The thing that I’ve been thinking about lately and miss the most is actually quite strange. I miss when the weather would get so cold that people wouldn’t want to leave their houses unless they had to. But for me I wanted to go out and see my friends. I’ve never taken for granted being able to spend time with people while I am around. Life pulls us in all different directions and I didn’t want to think that there would always be a next time. I was willing to sacrifice a tired next day if it meant spending time with friends or family. I’m getting distracted. The thing that I miss was the drive home. It might be midnight to 3 AM in the morning. There’s snow on the ground and the winds blowing. If not for seeing the structures of houses and buildings you’d assume that the whole town was deserted. The only thing you really hear is the wind when you step outside. You hear your feet crunching the snow on the ground. You watch as the wind blows small particles of snow across the road. I find it really peaceful. I would even turn my music off on the ride home.

The second thing that I really miss is when it’s so cold you can blow your breath out and you can see it. But not just that, no matter how cool it can be, but that’s just a part of what I enjoy the most. I enjoy the times when, for better or worse, somebody needs to go smoke a cigar or light a joint. I would tag along because I didn’t want to be the only one inside. I would bring my glass of whiskey or mixed drink with me. We all would be outside standing around on the porch or balcony of someones place. It would be so quiet all you could hear was our conversation and the wind. Nobody wanted to sit down or get too comfortable because nobody really wanted to stay out in the cold that long. We would just stand close by one another shaking or moving around to keep ourselves warm. We wouldn’t even turn on a light. The only light would be from the cigar end or the light posts of the streets. It was almost like the setting would yield a personal conversation. It would yield us to get serious about something or mention that one thing that had been bothering us about our lives our with whomever was in our company at the time.

We might ask one of those questions we let swirl around in our mind for a while because we think we can figure it out on our own. But really we aren’t sure what to do so we ask the people who are closest to us what they think. It might be about work, family, friends, or even advice on a girlfriend. Whatever it was it usually meant something. It usually was something real. There were those moments when life was going good and it was just a little bullshitting and watching a stupid video or song on someone’s phone. Those moments are fun as well, but usually my humor does not match up with the majority of other people. In times when it didn’t I would sometimes just drift off into my own world and think about something deeper. I might think about my future or what I was doing with myself. I might be longing for a girl or a relationship that I knew was probably never going to happen. And I would take a deep breath and slowly watch the air come out of my mouth into a fog. I could smell and taste the whiskey that I was drinking. I always remember complaining about the cold, but we usually all had enough of a buzz going on that none of us were usually pushing to go back inside unless we were watching something live. Being in the cold was almost a welcome tribulation. It forced us to suffer ever slightly to appreciate the warm weather and cheap entertainment we were about to go back to. Or to appreciate the people we left behind.

In a weird way I think of cold weather as a test. It’s something we all need to do. We need to struggle or go through bad spurts in life to really appreciate what we have or realize everything that we have to lose.