An Open Letter to the Fog

As I look out my dining room window early this Wednesday afternoon in mid-August, I see a familiar, yet no less unfortunate sight: gently rustling leaves set against a menacingly grey sky. On a mere three occasions this summer (perhaps four), I have awoken to sunlight. And I wake up at 8:30, so I'm giving you a fair chance to scram. But no -- like today, almost every day since early June, you have lingered until 11am, noon, sometimes 1pm or beyond. You've made it damn cold around here, too. I know it's trite to complain about the weather, especially something so mild and trivial as fog, but you bother me to no end.

One of the big reasons I have enjoying living in the urban oasis of Oakland is the weather. Often, when I pine for life in a more remote and natural locale -- the beach, the mountains, the desert, even Portland -- I remind myself that I wouldn't be able to handle the weather. I have been raised on, and come to demand, relatively mild winters and summers. But more than that, I can't handle grey skies. Someday, my wife and I would love to move to a coastal town. That someday is far away, yet I already fear the fog. I already fear you.

Every winter since high school, I have suffered from some degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I'd thrive during hot summers in Danville, then wither as the rains came. In college, I earned my poorest grades during the winter quarter -- even the distractions of spring couldn't compete. Later, I'd grow irritated and introverted during December and January. The short days, cold weather, and grey skies never did me well.

I typically steer clear of San Francisco, where one summer was the coldest winter Mark Twain ever spent. I just don't like fog. A day-long dose can penetrate the depths of my psyche -- an inane and inconvenient and admittedly embarrassing fact -- leaving me cold and tired and unmotivated. For whatever reason, I can't brush it off like most people. And neither it nor cloudy, rainy winter skies leave me feeling comforted, as some Northwest dwellers attest.

So when a persistent, unceasing, unforgiving fog like you infiltrates my summer, my time to be outside, to work, to explore, to run, to hike, to bike, it's not okay. To many people, weather talk is small talk. For me, it's big talk. My daily moods are tied to the weather, and whether this sensitivity is a weakness or a strength, it's my reality. When I kvetch about you to the people around me, I'm not just blowing hot air.

So, fog, I beg of you: Go away. Go to the places you are expected - Santa Cruz, Portland, the Sunset district. Get out of Oakland, and don't come back until next summer, when you'll be welcome in small doses. It's not you, it's me. Let's not make this hard. And no, we can't still be friends.

Comments