A Warm Day in January? Weather's Place in Our Memories

By Hani Azzam on January 20, 2013

Don’t let the snow at the end of the week fool you, we will see significantly less snow days, skiing, and snowmen around New England in the years to come. Earlier this week, I stepped out of my house into spring-on-the-verge-of-summer weather. Had I just awoken from a sleep in which I lost all concept of time, I would have placed the day sometime around the beginning of May. The air held the same type of spring heaviness, as if humidity had just re-discovered its legs and began to exercise. The weather sent me down Nostalgia Lane. I began remembering the old snow forts we used to build and the snow-shoveling business that sent friends and I door-to-door asking to clear driveways for a small fee.

Inhaling that tainted, thick air, I felt despair that I would never know those days again. When people would mention the weather in a positive light, it only exacerbated my frustration. I wanted to shake them, and yell “No! Don’t you see how this is destroying my childhood memories!?” This urge led me to question why I felt such an attachment to the cold weather during the winter. After all, most of us have complained about it at one point or another. I admit my own hypocrisy; I certainly cursed Wednesday’s rain, sleet, snow mixture that added its own flavor to the first day back at Tufts. So why the connection, or rather disconnection? Why the desire to hold on to something so clearly slipping away?

We don’t often notice the weather, unless making small-talk or bemoaning another missed prediction by meteorologists. However, these increasing “anomalies” in normal climate have led me to see weather as an essential component of memory. It provides the setting, the background, for the actions that make our remembrances rich. Thus, when the warm, almost humid, breeze brushed my skin on that 60-degree day, it ripped that background away from my fond childhood memories.

I had a similar experience driving by the site of my old high school. I had known of the building’s impending demolition, but it didn’t hit me until I physically saw a parking lot sitting in its place. I felt hurt then too, in the same way that I did on that very warm January day. The building, like the weather, had been the background to so many rich stories and experiences. Now it was gone, and now the climate is changing. In many cases, only a warm day in January can make people realize that. I hope it’s not too late. 

By Hani Azzam

Uloop Writer
Hani Azzam is a student of International Relations in the Tufts University Class of 2015 and co-founder of the blog "Until Next Year in Jerusalem." Follow Hani on twitter @HN_Azzam

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