January 9, 1998

HCL Syndrome

I just could not stand it any more. I had been waiting for three days for the rain to end, but there was no end in sight. My body was crying to move in broad, crisp strokes and I just could not do that inside.

I set off down the street, wrapped for the weather as best I could, but how do you prepare for horizontal rain? The temperature was about forty degrees, sparing us from mountains of snow or the ice storms that were causing havoc for our northern neighbors in Maine, New Hampshire and Canada. But the wind was nasty.

My friends in Arizona will not know what I am talking about. In Arizona, they bow down in reverence to the rain. They go out and dance in it. They get so little rain that there is no bad rain.

I had no intention of dancing at four in the afternoon in the rain. I think it was still daylight, but with the low lying clouds it was hard to tell if the sun ever came up. On days like this the sky changes from black to a little less black. Some call it gray, but that is stretching the imagination.

Arizona averages three hundred and thirty days of sunshine per year. New England averages ... well ... less. I do not want to learn the real answer. It probably would be too hard to take. Lots of people around here suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to a deprivation of light. I do not think that I am one of them because my ups and downs seem to transcend the seasons.

Instead, I suffer from HCL Syndrome. No, that is not a condition caused by the hydrochloric acid from acid rain. I am told by the scientist in my family that the acid in rain is sulfuric acid. No, my HCL is Hibernation Claustrophobia Syndrome. It is caused by continued exposure to New England winters. The symptoms are that you hunker down and never want to go outside, thereby never communicating with others. At the same time, the walls of your home squeeze tighter and tighter because you cannot stand to be alone with only Oprah, Jerry and Montel for company.

So how do I deal with HCL? I call, email, and meet for breakfast, coffee or lunch. I try to be part of something bigger than me in which I can interact with others.

But sometimes I just do not want to do “it,” whatever “it” is. At times like this, the answer that works is one that works for a lot of things in life: “Sometimes, you just have to walk through it.” It even works for rain.

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