How I See It: To winter-bound Fairfielders, a heartfelt mea culpa from Mexico
Friends and neighbors, I have abandoned you to the ravages of winter, and I am ashamed. Truly ashamed. I skipped out on you when the going got tough. As the days pass, it's getting harder and harder to live with myself, so, with your permission, I will confess to my whereabouts and place myself at your mercy.
I am holed up once again in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, across the Arizona border on the Sea of Cortez. It's morning. The coffee's on, and I stand forlornly on the terrace under a cloudless blue sky, with a gentle breeze on my face. The sun, still low in the east, casts long palm tree shadows on the street below. The jeans and sweatshirt I'm wearing will be exchanged for shorts and a T-shirt within the hour. Can you begin to understand the depths of my guilt?
Beyond the row of terra cotta roofs in front of me, the beach stretches out to meet the glassy surface of the sea. A few shrimp boats are at work miles away on the horizon (note to self: pick up some shrimp today).
I'm feeling terrible -- terrible -- about being here and not standing with you against the winter. You are strong, and I am weak, and I am not worthy even of your scorn. But I am grateful for any time you grant me to unload this heavy burden. If you were here on the terrace with me, you would see a tear rolling down my cheek. Oops, there's the coffee ... can you hang on a second? I may as well pour myself a cup now and get into shorts, as it's warming up already.
Sorry, didn't mean to keep you waiting. I'm back with coffee and shorts, sitting myself down, ready to give my confession. Just a sec, let me reposition my chair so I get some sun on the other side of my face... Where was I? Oh yes, I was about to express my guilt and shame. I don't blame you for taking this personally, my being down here, that is, and you being, uh, up there, with the snow, ice, Arctic temperatures and all. But believe me, there is no joy for me here, only torment. Perhaps after I explain myself you can find some compassion for me in your heart.
Hold that thought, OK? Our friend Magda is here delivering some of her homemade breakfast burritos. Let me just take care of this ...
Back again! What was I saying ... uh, how I ended up here in disgrace. I will not make excuses, but I have not been well. I thought I made a full recovery from last winter, but the nightmares returned right after Labor Day. The heating oil delivery guy, in a black cape and his hair in flames, drops out of a helicopter and sucks all the oil out of my tank with a straw. Then he explodes in a ball of fire. Or I wake up in my bedroom to see snow falling hard all over me. It's so heavy I can't move. I'm being slowly buried, and no one hears my screams.
By the way ... mind if I started in on one of these chorizo-and-egg burritos? If I could, I would give them all to you in a heartbeat, not that it would even begin to make amends.
So ... mmmf -- sorry, shouldn't try to talk with my mouth full -- I was evaluated at the Winter Really Getting on Your Nerves Clinic at ... mmmf ... Yale. Dr. Elsa Crystal, the director, sat me down for the diagnosis: post-traumatic snowstorm disorder. There was nothing I could do, she said, except suck it up and deal with it like everyone else around here. In a panic, I threw out a few ideas. Could I have Lyme disease? Could it be those GMOs in my food? Gluten, maybe? Could I get a letter for a medical marijuana card to, you know, help me sleep? She shrugged it all off, and I got a little pushy. I demanded a handicap sticker.
"Let it go," she said, and advised that I purchase an all-wheel drive truck and a warm hat with ear flaps.
The medical profession had failed me. I was left out in the cold (hey, that's funny!) with nowhere to turn. I hung on until the crisis came at the end of January. The 24/7 hysteria over that epic blizzard-that-wasn't pushed me beyond what I could bear. I had no choice but to flee.
For what it's worth to you, despite the humiliation of my abandonment, I feel I am improving. The nightmares are gone. I faithfully attend a support group that meets three times a week at a fish taco place downtown. You can also get shrimp tacos, which in my opinion go better with beer. A lady from Minnesota swears by ultraviolet light therapy, so I try to spend part of each day on the beach. Do you mind if I put on some sunscreen? You have been gracious beyond words for listening, but it's almost time for my UV treatment.
I could flog myself with a palm frond, but what good would that do? I'm working hard every day to regain my cold resistance. I hope you will accept me back in your midst when I return.
Do you think you could swing by my house and toss some salt on the driveway? It will support my recovery.
Ron Blumenfeld is a Fairfield writer and retired pediatrician. His "How I See It" appears periodically. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.