-21 degrees today in NW Arkansas. That takes into account the wind chill, but still, that’s far colder than the proverbial witch’s tit. I am not amused. I am, more and more, envisioning a small apartment in Chiang Mia. One in a complex with a pool and a garden in which I won’t slip on ice and break my hip. Perhaps you recall me mentioning before that I am cold intolerant.
I try to be a good sport about the weather. I do. When the temperature was 17, I was game for putting the top down on Jack’s convertible, cranking up the heated seats and roaring around town like a couple of horribly misplaced, and obviously mentally-challenged, striped-assed apes. But -25? Are you freaking kidding me?
At -25, I begin the search for warmth. It’s always been a puzzlement to me that people live in places like Fargo. My grandpa, a native Brockmueller of North Dakota told me that frozen state was a good place to be from. He ran away to the lumber camps of the Oregon coast when he was twelve. Maybe my need to roam didn’t originate with Jack’s PTSD at all. Maybe, I come by it natural. Maybe the reason I refuse to stay anyplace where the temperature dips below freezing for longer than a couple nights a year, is genetic, passed down by Grandpa Fritz.
At sixty-three the inclination to seek warmer climes, like so many other proclivities, is a knife-knot of influences and choices, past regrets and joys. What is clear is that Jack is happy with this need of mine to avoid frostbite. As I’ve mentioned before, our old 150 pound dog – the dog that acted as Jack’s service dog for almost ten years and may well have saved his life on more than one occasion – that dog turned 12 last month. That’s the equivalent of 99 years-old for a dog his size. When we lose our big boy, Jack will need a distraction from the grief that, if history is an predictor, will bring back every other loss he’s lived through.
I’m not going to catalog these loses. If you’re a combat veteran, you understand. If you’re not, you might consider buying a copy of the anthology Proud to Be:Writing by American Warriors. Check out my essay Boogie with Chesty or simply open the book at random and fall into the experience. Hell, buy a copy of My Life with a Wounded Warrior or Clueless Gringos in Paradise. Any of those books will make you laugh and cry and understand what it’s like to be a combat veteran.
When our loyal dog dies, the arrangements for wintering in Thailand might well be a fine and good distraction for both Jack and for me. Besides, I miss Asia and if I have to endure another winter of these temperatures I may well eat myself into such a state that, if I ever do get back to Chiang Mai, I’ll be unable to climb the 106 steps to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthrep.
Already I have to force my mind to Buddha trees and flowering gardens instead of dwelling on mac and cheese and chocolate fudge cake.
Think warm thoughts. Now there’s a great cognitive therapy goal.