By Sarah Binau ’19
My personal weather-related nightmare: feeling my snot freeze into icy boogers inside my nose in the 7 a.m. darkness as I unsuccessfully scrape an inch of ice from the windshield of the car with my icicle fingers, exhaust fumes adding to the gray sky’s clouds, wondering how far away June is. Except this isn’t a nightmare; it was my reality growing up in the Midwest.
Despite my Ohio upbringing, I am beyond wimpy when it comes to weather. I don’t have the patience for it. I grew up with unbelievably gray, numbing winters, sometimes with great snow, but usually not. I was the kid in high school who never took their winter coat off, even after coming inside. I’d be in class, zipped up. Probably with a scarf.
Despite my clear preference for warmer climates and my strong dislike of most things cold-weather related, I somehow thought it was a good idea to look at mostly Midwest and East Coast colleges. “The West Coast” was some far-off place people didn’t talk seriously about as an actual, plausible destination for someone who dreads the onset of winter.
I thought that preferring better weather was selfish. You have to endure the cold to get the lush, green summer months, right? There are many wonderful people, whom I admire deeply, who are able to appreciate the beauty in the seasonal changes. I am not one of these wonderful people; the four seasons I see are 1) humidity 2) mosquitos, 3) 2.5 weeks of spectacular autumn weather, and 4) gray winter for 40% of the year.
Little did I know, there are actually places that are too-good-to-be-true: the “Disneylands” of weather. Some say that Southern California “has no weather” because of how unbelievably boring the climate is. I love this no-weather. No humidity, no bugs biting you in the evenings, no drastic fluctuations in temperature and virtually no rainfall. (Although we could use more rainfall here…).
In the doldrums of a cold December 2014, I decided to apply to both Pomona and Occidental to give myself a greater shot at the So Cal weather I knew I loved (I had grown up going to San Diego, where my Mom is from). But I felt silly; when people asked me what I liked about these schools, the first thing that came to mind was, “Uh… the nice weather, I guess.” Most people from Ohio would tilt their heads and give me a half-smile, an expression that says, “Are you nuts?”
Maybe I am nuts. Maybe I should work harder to appreciate the cycles of life, death, and re-birth that happen where I am from. But I am definitely not losing any sleep over it. I am too busy enjoying the (almost) constant sunshine with other weather wimps here in Southern California.
Here at Pomona, I love being able to say, “I think I’ll go to the beach this weekend” and not having to check the weather, knowing that even if it is cooler than usual (a frigid 55 degrees), I’ll be cozy in a jacket with a blanket. I love being able to open a window that has no screen and know that things that will eat me alive will not be flying inside. I love not having to own any clothing designed for sub-30 degree temperatures. I love how everyone freaks out if it rains for more than two consecutive days, holing up and refusing to go outside. I love to eat lunch outside in February, feeling the sun on my shoulders as I see a “15ºF” show up on my phone’s weather app for Columbus, Ohio.
My advice to anyone deciding between Pomona and anywhere else is: think seriously about how wimpy you are on the weather scale, and rather than try to change or ignore that, listen to it. Don’t underestimate the importance of good weather. I almost did during the college process. And although I will always love Ohio, with all of its weather madness and the excellent ice-scraping and snow-shoveling techniques it taught me, I thank my lucky stars today that I’m not an ice cube at an East Coast school.