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I’ve had my air conditioning off for months. The weather has been nice and unseasonably warm, but it finally turned. I laid in my bed last night wearing yoga pants, socks, tank top, sweater, and stocking hat and yet I was cold. Shivering a bit. Blankets were piled high on my kids, so they were warm and cozy. I had my childhood quilt and one of those white waffle weave hospital blankets pulled up, yet I was still cold.
I was cold inside, too. Cold with worry and fear and emotional exhaustion. I had spent large portions of my day, listening to my friends with less privilege than I, panicking over real threats to their lives and safety. I have my own personal fears about the repeal of the ACA, reproductive rights, and my safety as a single woman in a rural midwest town. Add on top of that my fears and worries for everyone else I hold dear in my life and it was simply crushing.
Cold. Shivering. Frozen.
The only image I could hold in my head was that of my mom talking about the pride she took in never turning on her heat until the day after Thanksgiving. How that’s what “good people do”. Strong people. People with true fortitude.
Something inside of me snapped.
I sat up and literally thought, “fuck it”. I went to the thermostat, turned on the heat, and stood over the register as warm air came whooshing up the vents. It curled around my toes, worked up my legs, and finally warmed my core.
Suddenly, I could breathe again. The horrible paralyzing fear dropped away and crumbled when it hit the ground. I crawled into bed, pulled my quilt up, and felt my very soul relax. My whole body eased into the mattress and I felt my eyes close.
For once, I slept through the night.
This morning, my home was warm. My toes were warm. My core wasn’t shivering. The reality of my town, my community, and the lives of people I deeply care about hasn’t changed. I’m still scared. But I’m not paralyzed. I left that on the floor next to the heat register the night before.