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The Weather in the Motherland

June 2, 2009

My emotions have always been quite level. I swing into anger very quickly, but it subsides just as quickly. When The Wife and I have a fight it happens very quickly, but is over before we know it. We don’t have those lingering, drawn-out fights where you don’t speak to each other for days on end. We’re emotional people, but we’re very much in love and hate arguing. Which is the way I like it.

But, back to emotions.

Like I said, I’ve always been very emotionally stable. I don’t get angry a lot; I don’t get sad a lot. I’m not saying I’m immune to mood swings; after all, what good is life if it doesn’t affect you in some way.

I know a lot of people in northern-North America and Europe get the “winter blues”. However, when I was at University in the near-Arctic Circle I never experienced this. I spent much of my childhood in the UK and was always happy. I think that the outside world, and especially things I couldn’t change, like the weather, just really didn’t affect me.

But things began to change a couple of years back.

A few of my friends attended university in the UK. They would come home to a much warmer climate and complain about the grey skies, the pale and unfriendly people and the bitter cold. I was never able to empathize with them, as my memories of the UK were distinctly different. I remembered sunny warm days, beautiful green countryside, old monasteries, churches and castles. I remembered smiling, happy faces and blue skies above. Of course it rained occasionally, but not that much, I would argue.

A couple of years ago, after my university graduation in the near-Arctic Circle, I decided to move back to England (as an aside, more stories of England will now follow in the near future, now that I’ve unleashed some of the truth from my anonymity). My student visa in the near-Arctic Circle had run out, and I had little desire to move back to the warmth that was home.

I went to England full of hope and confidence, my head and my heart full of happy memories and idealized visions of the weather.

And they were all wrong. It was cold. It was damp. It was just plain dreary. The people were cold. The people were pale. And the people were unfriendly.

I was used to cold. In my university days I would brave -20*C weather to get to class. Snow would fall in buckets, until it became too cold to snow. And I loved it. I loved seeing the sun shining off of a frozen lake. The white of the snow hurting your eyes it was so bright. It was gorgeous.

But England, oh England had the kind of damp air that would seep through your clothes and chill you to the bone. In Canada you’d merely walk inside to warm up. In England I found that you had to change each and every item of clothing you wore to avoid hypothermia.

But, in some ways, the worst part of the experience was the way the weather, grey skies and all, affected me. I became disillusioned. I became unmotivated. I became sad. It was the most depressed I had ever been in my entire life, and I hated it. I hated feeling that way, and most of all I hated the way I allowed the external environment to dictate the way I felt.

So I left.

I finally understood what my friends, and much of the wider world, had been talking about when they discussed British weather.

I still love the UK. I have many friends there still, I had a very happy childhood, and I have some lovely memories.

But I’ll be damned if I can handle that dreary weather for more than a 2-week vacation!

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