Sunday, February 17, 2008

Was born with roses in her eyes

I’m beginning to feel like a hothouse flower, trying to flourish in the dead of a Northern winter. It’s as if someone took an orchid and transplanted it into the woods of Marion and wondered, “Hmm, why isn’t this orchid doing so well?” What orchids need are greenhouses, and greenhouses cost a lot of exactly the things we don’t have enough of and shouldn’t be using anyway: money and fossil fuels. Heat? Big, bright incandescent sun lamps? Long, scalding hot showers? Warm, dry socks hot from the dryer? All of these things that the the hardy scrub pines and snow drops of New England have learned to survive without. (Okay, so maybe orchids don’t need socks. But they need those fabric cover things.)

I always forget that I’m predisposed to warmth both by genetics and by upbringing. My mother’s Greek, and I read recently in Mother Earth News that darker-skinned people absorb even less Vitamin D from the sun than lighter-skinned people. Almost all Americans are Vitamin D deficient anyway, from too much time indoors and too few fresh fruits and vegetables, so people inclined towards warmer climates genetically (like Mediterranean islanders) are even worse off than all of you Scandinavian types. Combine that with a childhood spent in the hottest place on earth, and I’m in a pretty bad way.

Bangkok really was judged the hottest place on earth while I grew up there, when they averaged for winter and summer temperatures and day and night-time temperatures. It got down into the seventies at night one week a year. Now I fantasize about weather like that--always sunny, always hot, with a sun that goes up every morning at six and sets every night at six like clockwork. With humidity that hits you like a brick wall every time you go outside. Actually, I don’t even know if I could deal with weather like that anymore. I’m too much of a wimp after spending time in the cold.

The real problem with Vitamin D deficiency is that it causes exacerbates the symptoms of depression, something I’m prone to anyway in the winter. I’m trying to cultivate myself as I would a hard-to-grow plant, to keep myself happy and content even in the bitterest of chills. My new attempt on that front is the $10 down jacket I finally bought for myself last night at the L.L. Bean Outlet. I had been making do with a vest for the last two winters. I had forgotten how cozy it is to go outside in the cold when you actually have your arms covered--Karl and I even went for a little beach walk today. Still, even though it’s ten bucks, I feel guilty for allowing myself to spend that much money on something that was for my own comfort in the cold and not for the boat. It paints the difficulty of this choice in brutal colors: do I invest my time and money in staying in Marion, or do I invest my time and money on going to the Bahamas.

The anguish of that choice gets worse by the day. I can buy a one-way ticket from Boston to Nassau on February 26 for $145. I can buy that ticket right now, this minute. The ticket’s ready to purchase in another browser window as I type. I found the price last week, and I haven’t been brave enough to close the window yet. I refresh the page every day, just to make sure the fare’s still there. Our Canadian friends called on Thursday, letting me know that they’re in Georgetown and when they leave they’ll be heading to Crooked Island. Everyone who sails knows how tough it is to coordinate time on sailboats, but I bet they arrive just about on the 26th, and if anyone can help me rerig the forestay, it’s Marcel. But you know when that is? Nine days from now. How ready am I to face the boat alone?

Obviously I’m having a tough time being honest on here about that decision-making process after some of the comments I got with my last post. I love that people care about our journey and my decision, but it can’t be solved with a simple go or don’t go. Am I ready to leave Karl for an indefinite period of time? What does that mean for our relationship? But what does it mean for us if I stay?

In all of this, I need to nurture myself and keep myself from the depression that sneaks up on me like cold frost. I drift through days in a daze, trying to make my way from one hour to the next. I’m working on it. I have my tools, my weapons to keep the demons at bay. If I let them win, I won’t be able to help anyone: neither Karl nor Secret.


Anonymous said...

My advice for warding off the cold depression of winter (and I have 30 years of experience), is to drink lots of milk and hot herbal tea. The milk is fortified with vitamin D and the calcium in it has a calming effect. The herbal tea keeps you warm and also provides all kinds of other benefits. Chamomile is calming, and spices like cinnamon are warming. Love ya ---Robinet

Melissa said...

That is fantastic advice! I drink a lot of decaf black tea with milk and sugar, but I always feel guilty for drinking milk, because of animal fat issues. But I forget about the all-important Vitamin D! Now I will not feel guilty anymore. I do need to invest in some herbal stuff, too. I love mint and honey, Good Earth, and Sweet Dreams...