A clear benefit to living in an area such as Maryland is an understanding that life inevitably brings change. When I first arrived here in the summer of 2005 it was hard to imagine this area resembling anything but a humid jungle of oaks and vines and maples and insects and sweat. Moving here was in my estimation, to say the least, perhaps the largest mistake I had made in my life. And then, the magic of fall came. Trees changed color and leaves died in concert, and most importantly I was free of the humidity and heat. Brisk mornings and cooler days replaced such oppressive torture. I was set--perhaps this was what life in Maryland was REALLY about. But that would soon change as freezing temperatures, snow, and ice converged in my environment. Fear took hold of my mind again as weeks and weeks of worrying about slipping in ice, combined with the obsession over whether each and every layer of clothing that would ensure my comfort and health was lost or forgotten. This was hell on earth, and it had frozen over. Or so I thought, for again my mentality was jarred by the new buds and fresh greens of spring. The ice thawed, and my cynicism towards this area did as well. The cycle was complete after several weeks, as the jungle weather sneaked up slowly but surely upon us. And thus began my second summer here.
That was nearly two years ago, and as my 3rd cycle of life in this area comes to a close over the next 3 months, I think I have finally gotten it. Slow to learn, my Californian mentality is revealed. It's clear that my former way of thinking about this earth was based on the notion that my environs would never really change. At least, when things did change, that was a sign of something tumultuous. Whether change came from a storm, a heat wave, Santa Ana winds, or some other strange alteration in the climate, change was always bad. The normal would eventually return, and patience during a brief suffering was all one really needed to endure the temporary unpleasantness.
What is obvious on paper, that California is the exception of stability among a rule of flux, was not sufficient for me to have this truth in my heart. The cyclic and changing nature of weather patterns here have had to turn and churn several times for me to understand that this brief moment of a particular season will soon fade and a new way of life will arise.
As a Californian, I would often mock the superficiality of conversations that had begun with interrogatives such as "How is the weather?" Now I know that this question contains the key to life--is the world welcoming to me or is it my worst enemy? One never knows for sure in a place such as Maryland.
This makes me wonder-maybe it's better to live somewhere like Maryland, for it more closely mirrors the human existence. Maybe the "craziness" that Californians are oft accused of is simply based on the fact that the environment trains people to subconsciously assume that comfort and stability are the norm.
Maybe the pain of bad seasons reminds us that life has seasons that are naturally trying, and maybe enduring those bad times makes the good times all the sweeter. Maybe I should stop saying maybe. Just maybe.