Even though you would think that with the amount of snow that’s fallen on New York City this winter, people might have gotten used to it. However, it seems like the weather is all that anyone talks about these days, as snow and freezing temperatures make it impossible to forget. I realized that after 4 years of balmy winters in Virginia and an unusually warm winter in the Czech Republic last year, I might have lost the thick shell I may have had as a youngster in the tri-state area.
First, there was the “snow-pacolypse” that resulted in the first ever MTA shutdown and my real-life adult snow day from work. I realized my hurricane training from the years in Virginia really helped when my brain kicked into emergency mode and I prepared buckets of water, stocked my food supplies and searched for flashlights. It seems like every Monday my sister has had off from school and we get emails all the time that our DC office is closed due to the inclement weather. Sunday was a whiteout and then today the city is again covered; so much so that we got to leave work a full 2 hours early. Don’t worry, I’m not complaining…
After a full 3 months in the NYC area, even my attempts to head further south and escape the cold were thwarted by such a strong winter. First, I spent the lovely long weekend of President’s Day down in Wilmington, North Carolina to visit family. My first visit to Wilmington was 4 years ago and it’s hard to believe how much time has passed since then. I was so excited to get out of the city and especially in this sense, the weekend did not disappoint. My immediate reaction as we drove from the airport was how vast the skyline was and that in the night sky it was actually possible to see stars! Such are the things you forget about when surrounded by tall buildings. Wilmington is a really cute town and has the beach super close and beautiful countryside all around. Most of all, I love the cute little homey of our family members, complete with a pony, 2 dogs and many, many cats. Plus the supposedly warmer climate is great all year round, except for that it still was chilly when we were there.
Wilmington is only a 1-hour flight away, however the Southern culture definitely stood out as different, particularly in the form of religion. Compared to the Northeast and especially NYC, Southerners are known for living at a much more relaxed pace, being much more friendly and holding on much more to tradition. I actually read an article recently that so much of NYC has been re- and over-built that it is almost impossible to unearth some of the architectural and historical focus points of the city. Anyway, religion seems to play a huge part of life in the South in a way that seems foreign to my Northern upbringing. For example, the church coordinates the kids’ basketball league (whereas in my little athlete life the town always arranged it). As a result, halftime was met with a mini sermon projected on a video screen for all to watch.
Although I have never been a churchgoer, I was very impressed with the way religion in Wilmington was modernized to become relevant to the 21st century. The above-mentioned mini-sermon started out more like a story similar to the Great Gatsby that then transformed into a moral lesson with linkage to Jesus and God at the end. On Sunday, we went to church and arrived to what felt like a taping for the Game Show Network, followed by a full-blown and technologically advanced (Christian) rock concert. Then, the sermon of the morning was delivered by a very young minister in an almost TED talk-like fashion, with full-blown graphics.
The sermon of that week was the kick-off of a multi-week series exploring a topic that I actually wrote about several months ago: loneliness. As we sat through church, the minister tied together both statistics and scripture to ultimately arrive at the conclusion that faith in God will carry us through the times of loneliness we experience. While I may not have fully agreed with that last part, I found myself sitting in this mega church in a different region of the country once again thinking about this topic that seems to be everywhere. I’m convinced that mental health is this era’s health fad because truly it seems to be showing up in everything I do; behind trends at my job, the shootings occurring all over the world, the mission of Unmasked Theater Company, the winter doldrums, issues my friends face and so many other things that keep popping up in my life. The strangest thing too is that there seems to be so little awareness and research about it. We’ll see what happens as the mental issues we all face come out of the shadows and the world comes to realize that these internal feelings are something we all struggle with, wherever we come from.
My second weekend excursion to the South brought me to my other most-familiar American city, Washington DC. The weekend was nice and full of relaxing, cozy catch-ups with friends, helped by the snow! On the Saturday of my visit, just like in NYC, it snowed all day and all night! I slipped and slid all around as I trekked to meet up with various friends (luckily all in the same neighborhood). As I walked home at 1am that night, I was so thankful not to fall and break a leg. Although, I didn’t make it to the National Mall, my first DC snow was beautiful and accompanied by the perfect friends to spend a snow day with 🙂
So, now it’s March and I wish the snow would stop so that spring can come! Here’s to keeping up that mental health with the hope that the sunny days will be here again soon.