“Your family is weirdly obsessed with the weather.” I have been told this on more than one occasion. I would be offended if it weren’t true: we are, in fact, weirdly obsessed with the weather. No Cass-to-Cass conversation lacks a comprehensive discussion of the current and historic weather in every location we’ve been or could conceivably have visited over the past several days. (For a family of nomads—in a given week, among four of us who ostensibly live in only two cities, that can include D.C., Seattle, Spokane, Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco—this is not a lightweight commitment.) Our conversations often go something like this:
“Yeah, it snowed a little bit on Monday, then it was like 60 on Tuesday, it was super weird.”
“It was 85 in Vegas on Tuesday!”
“Oh, were you in Vegas this week?”
It was only recently that I discovered that other people are not quite so fixated on the weather as we are. This baffles me. How can you possibly leave your house without at least a passing familiarity of how the weather is going to change over the next several hours? How do you dress yourself? Aren’t you afraid you’re going to be, God forbid, uncomfortable?! I check the hourly weather forecast when I wake up, after I shower, and regularly throughout the day to prepare myself for what horrors await me in the (insert unpleasant D.C. season here, unless it’s this particular week in April, in which case I continue to check it that regularly just to gloat to the past version of myself that I cryogenically froze during the polar vortex).
Much of my obsession with the weather comes from being a Las Vegas expat. Growing up in Vegas, weather events were such a rarity that any deviation from the norm was sure to cause any and all of the following: celebration, mass panic, traffic accidents, and/or public nudity. Rain was an invitation to run out of your house into the street and experience a phenomenon that you typically read about only in books (as a child, I was particularly fascinated by how Beverly Cleary’s characters always wore rain boots. I didn’t own a pair of rain boots until I left for college in New York).
As a people, we yearned for rain—for clouds—for anything but the pounding, relentless sun. Even in winter, the constant sunlight felt like a punishment. I felt this way when I lived in California, too; it was so galling to live in a climate that refused to wallow along with you every once in a while. There was no need to check the forecast because if it was July, it was hot; if it was December, it was windy, and regardless of the temperature, it was sunny and you had better be damned happy about it because think of those poor people in Portland who have to live in the rain all the time. I think that Las Vegas lacks a certain verve that exists in other cities because we had no weather events to rally around.
Here in D.C., if it’s about to snow, you can feel the air change. (And you can watch the bread disappear from the Clarendon Trader Joe’s like we don’t all have enough cereal in our pantries to get us through to next winter because bread and milk.) For days, all anyone talks about is their plans for the storm: “I’m buying six bottles of wine and binge-watching Game of Thrones!” “I’m buying six bottles of wine and binge-reading the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez!” “I’m buying six bottles of wine and locking myself in the bathroom while my three children under the age of six destroy my home because we can’t take them to the playground!” There’s none of that in Vegas. It’s an excellent conversational topic. But I digress.
Now that I live in a world where the weather is constantly changing, I have adopted it as a religion. Think about meteorological science for a moment. At any given moment, we have access to a narrative of the next ten days of our lives. Imagine if astrology were so reliable! “With rain overnight, tomorrow’s high of 24 degrees means ice on area sidewalks and roadways. Your ill-advised sprint to the bus will result in an embarrassing and quite public spill in front of that cute guy who works in the KPMG building. By the way, he’s totally gay. Move on.”
Nothing in our lives is as predictable as the weather, and given the effect that the weather has on the human condition, I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t value this as much as I do. I am desperate to know how the future will play out. I go through periods where I read my horoscope and analyze my dreams and try to track whether the underwear I put on in the morning has any bearing on whether or not I get any rude emails that day. Unsurprisingly, none of these methods has successfully predicted the course of my life.
The ten-day forecast, though, that’s reliable. And I ask again: why doesn’t everyone follow it as closely as I do? Am I missing out on something? Would I enjoy the world more if I let it take me by surprise, freak storms and all? I have been preoccupied lately by the fear that I’m letting my anxiety doom me to a life of routine and familiarity. I am slavishly devoted to the forecast because tomorrow’s weather is the only fact that can be promised to me before it happens. It’s an anchor for me in an unpredictable world. Perhaps I should give up Weather.com for a month, to see if I can function like a normal person without knowing precisely how to dress myself the following morning, without spending all of Tuesday dreading the wind on Wednesday.
But then I picture myself in the pouring rain with no umbrella and, God forbid, improper footwear, and I don’t delete the ten-day forecast link from my Bookmarks bar just yet. Really, there’s no sacrifice that isn’t worth it for dry socks.