Any person on social media (everyone) witnesses a divide that seems to happen every winter – on one side stands those in East Coast and Northern states, feeling frigid and depressed in a world of snow, ice, and freezing wind, and on the other side lounges everyone in sunny states, seemingly blissful as they hang out by the swimming pool, go on hikes, watch sunsets, etc. While the East Coasters can be seen bitterly posting screenshots of their single digit (sometimes in the negatives) temperatures, West Coasters are found posting shitty memes (saying things like, “My favorite part of winter is watching it on TV from California”) that inspire harsher pangs bitterness in the shivering bellies of every snow dweller.
People in Southern/South Western states are no different with their Instagram posts of sunsets, tan lines, and poolside pedicures. But living in Phoenix this winter, I realize the very big difference between what it means to brag about winter here and what it is to brag about it in California.
Let me tell you a little bit about summers in the desert. Temperatures rise above a hundred degrees (actually above 110 degrees) and often stay there for at least 30 days at a time. All traces of green disappear. The leaves die and fall off the trees, the grass dies and leaves a myriad of dust pits in its place, and views of the mountains and surrounding desert become a dull, relentless sea of brown. Dust storms sweep through Phoenix semi-frequently, choking the already smoggy air and blanketing the city for days afterward.
The high temperatures of summer in Phoenix last for five months. FIVE MONTHS. That’s pretty much the equivalent of a long winter in Cleveland. So for five months, people take shelter indoors, staking out in air conditioned movie theaters, museums, and bowling alleys. It’s not a joke to go outside during summer in Phoenix – it’s seriously dangerous. There’s a big outdoorsy scene here and even those brave souls you won’t find trying to hike the mountains until well after 9pm, when the ground has cooled off enough to not cook you. And having just popped my night-hike cherry, let me tell you it’s not the most pleasant. The need for flashlights limits your ability to think creatively on how best to get up or down steep areas. Predators such as hawks and coyotes are known to come out for hunting. Also tarantulas, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. Okay, maybe I’m just not the adventuring type, so sorry for the whiney paranoia, but I have yet to find a desert animal or creature I wouldn’t mind being within 10 feet of me.
The point is, summer in the desert is the equivalent of winter on the East Coast. Everything dies and being outside becomes unbearable, leading to the depressing, constant state of remaining indoors that is weighing on many of you right now during snow season. So think twice before you feel bitter about seeing a sunset post this winter on a desert resident’s Instagram account. They’re not posting it to be cut deeper into your misery, they’re just genuinely excited to be able to experience some fresh air without passing out from heat stroke. This summer, everyone here will be jealous of your beach pictures because the idea of sand and bare feet at that time will make them want to cry and jump immediately into an ice bath.
Those Californians though, with their year-round perfect weather, are total jerks. You should definitely keep hating on them.