Over the past week, an interesting option came up.
Where I live here in Jersey, we are hit by severe snowstorms called nor’easters—because they are storms that sweep across the South, hit the Gulf Stream, and come up via a generally northeastern direction. They tend to leave heavy, wet snow, often accumulating a foot or more of snow, and often leave us without electricity. If you don’t or can’t use a generator (like many apartment tenants or HOA members can’t), you’re out of much.
Well, I finally got over my long disdain for the cold and snow. This is me, in the wee hours of the morning long before dawn, digging my ass out of the snow to get to work. (I was told to take my time, and come in when the roads were safe—I just wanted to see how close to punching in I could do it.)
After a few days of enjoying the winter and bonding with my work family, I found myself at a crossroads. Here I am, I almost have everything I need—friends, family, a career, I’m dating (dating as a trans man will be a potential future post), and the ability to soon move out.
Here’s the thing. Since I was a teenager, I’ve pined to live in a warmer climate, preferably Hawai’i or Florida. I have long remembered hating winter time, because I hated shoveling, I hated having to shiver in blackouts during and after a snowstorm, I hated the endless days of overcast skies against brown mountains, driving on treacherous roads.
I have everything else here I need in Jersey. Florida has what I want, but nothing I have. I’d be a stranger, a transplant, with no friends, no job prospects, only savings to live off of while starting all over. I mean, I’d stay at my parents’ winter home for a couple of weeks till I found something and then move out, but why start all over when I finally found everything else I’ve long fought hard for, and finally found or rediscovered?
I’ve never really prepped myself for the cold. I usually didn’t buy myself the proper clothes to layer and wear to shovel in. I didn’t have tire chains in case the roads sucked. Until the generator we now have, the old generator we had while growing up only powered a few things. I didn’t sleep underneath enough blankets.
I’m a hardy guy. Snow storms come and go, but it’s not like there’s always snow down the ground—many winters are also plenty mild, or it’s just blasts of cold air I deal with. Fresh air, seeing the birds that reside year round and hearing their songs, sunny days, and when the snow lingers add joy to my days when the depression hits, when this oft-dreary weather triggers it. Being around my work family, or at least getting out of the house, helps.
Having friends around the country who also live where snow is a part of life helps, too—something we can all bond over. Learning from them how to better deal with what is mild compared to their season helps keep things in perspective. Throwing on a good movie and enjoying it over a good cup of coffee, as winter teaches us to relax from the rest of the taxing year, soothes the soul.
I’m taking a rain check on that (potential) move to Florida. I’m not giving up a good thing this time around.