Commentary: Lifelong dream of cold, snow comes true

The day I was born, a snow storm was brewing in Tehran — or at least that's what my mother tells me. I am starting to suspect that my introduction into the world on such a turbulent day has played a part in a lifelong obsession I've had with extremely cold weather.

Or it could be my 365-days-a-year, sun-filled Southern California upbringing that has made me envious of those who have had the pleasure of having actual justified use for wearing thick coats and gloves, of waking up in the morning to a city completely covered in snow, or turning on a fireplace because they're actually cold and not just for, you know, an experience.

Going to Big Bear Lake and installing snow tires on my car was truly a moment of euphoria for me. Meanwhile, friends who had spent winters trying to thaw ice crystals off their eyelashes could not comprehend my obsession.

I'm sure someone who is originally from, say, Michigan might be reading this, rolling their eyes, and thinking, "You mean pain, not pleasure, right?" However, as someone who has been snow- and cold-deprived my entire life, I can't comprehend the impracticality of snow. My understanding of it and feelings for it are the equivalent of someone whose only idea of Los Angeles encapsulates beaches, palm trees and the Hollywood sign.

Despite the fact that London's average winter weather had made me cling to heaters whenever I could find one and wear two layers of pants and enough sweaters to look like Ralphie from "A Christmas Story," getting news that the whole of the U.K. was going to be blanketed by snow felt for a week or two like experiencing that tingly-Christmas feeling all over again.

As I diligently prepared for the first snow adventure of my life, I checked weather reports back home to find that Glendale was just how I had left it — nothing a light jacket couldn't handle.

Meanwhile, I woke up one morning to a magnificent sight: the roofs, sidewalks, car and everything in between covered in glistening white stuff.

When I bundled up and made my way outside, the emotional weight I had piled on over the years for this very moment was slightly overwhelming, but so were the unexpected physical adjustments to actually experiencing it.

With every step, it crunched audibly beneath the weight of my feet. The cold air seemed to seep in through my wool gloves as people on the street quickly whizzed by. My cheeks soon began to feel numb, and after I got caught up in a bout of descending snow flurries, I could barely open my eyes. Pro tip: If you're going out in the snow, make sure you wear waterproof mascara.

I walked along shops while everyone rushed to get home, I made my way to a wooded area that had snow for miles and no humans in sight. I stopped at a coffee shop and indulged in a fantasy: watching the snow fall outside with a hot drink in hand while I got some writing done. I walked down to a park and watched local kids indulging in the wintry conditions with their toboggans in full force. This was not a two-hour drive up some mountains to throw snow around. There was snow around, and I was living with it.

My body, more tolerant of Southern California heat than London cold, slowly adjusted. I enjoyed the balance and silence the snow brought, the way it equalized the city. Under its protection, everyone and everywhere appeared to be the same.

After a week of freezing weather that had grounded flights at Heathrow for days, I checked back to see the weather at home after I heard the L.A. area had had its own chill. Closer inspection revealed a week of temperatures in the 50s. I couldn't help but laugh just a little. Remembering the story of my birth on that snowy day, I finally felt I had come full circle. I couldn't wait to feel the warm So Cal sun on my skin again.

LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Paste magazine, New America Media, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at

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