A few months before I was to move to Japan, I looked at a map of the world I had on my bedroom wall† and trace my finger in a horizontal line from Fukuoka City, across the Pacific Ocean, all the way to San Diego, California.
"Perfect!" I said to myself.
Having moved to Portland, Oregon after living in Southern California for the first half of my life, I was never quite able to tame the longing in my heart for the subtropics.
I'd had enough of Oregon's miserable weather, the rain, the drizzle, the sprinkling, the showers, and the constantly gray, overcast skies. I was sick of the mud on my shoes, the musty smell of Pendleton wool as I chopped wood for the fire, and the firewood that was always too damp to catch fire. I'd also had it up to here with the runny nose, the pasty white skin, the bronchitis. I wanted to escape. And now Japan was beckoning me like Bali Hai.
And so, looking at that map, I recall saying to myself, "I guess I won't be needing my sweaters. Won't need that heavy coat, either. Gloves? I'll toss those in the Goodwill pile . . ."
And then I came to Japan and for those first few weeks in late March I nearly died from exposure (and hunger, but that's another story).
This morning, March 11th, it snowed, if you can believe it. Not enough to stick, of course, but enough to remind you that living in a subtropical climate comes with no guarantees.
I wore four layers, a scarf, and my heavy peacoat when I took my son to kindergarten. I was still cold. When I took a look at today's weather, I was both amused and chagrined to discover that it was 18°C in Portland.
All I can say is, thank God I don't live in Korea.
†Some boys have pictures of large-breasted women on their walls. I had maps and posters of world destinations. That is the kind of nerd I was. (Am.)