My mother always complained about being cold. Not me. I went barefoot all year. Never outside, of course. Still, I never wore socks unless Mom needled me until I relented and put them on. She needled me about staying warm a lot: wear your snow-pants, put on a hat, get your boots on, and most of all: close the door.
I lived in a drafty, old house, on top of a hill. Nobody had wall-to-wall carpeting back then. We had a carpet in the fronch-room, and linoleum everywhere else. Mom said our house was drafty on account of all the long, low windows. I never noticed the drafts; I loved those windows: wavy glass, and painted in ropes that I imagined once operated the shutters outside. Teacher said glass is a liquid, just a very slow flowing liquid. I saw what she meant, ’causes the glass in our windows had little air pockets and was way thicker and swirlier at the bottom, down by the sill. Sure some cold air came in, but it had to be warmer than the brown paper dipped in wax that Teacher said the pilgrims used for windows. Teacher knew a whole lot of stuff that Mom never even considered.
Mom said when she was younger, she was just like me. She never wanted to wear snow-pants under her dress, even when her Mom said she should. Sometimes she just carried them, so Grandma would get off her back. If I was Mom, I would have worn snow-pants all the time, on account of the unpredictable underpants girls wore back when she was young. A girl could be just walking along, minding her own business, and next thing she knew, her panties were down around her ankles. Wear snow-pants and nobody would know when your panties let-loose. I guessed Mom was less of a problem solver when she was a kid.
Anyways, Mom got caught downtown in the dead of winter because of a blizzard or a flood that made all the buses stopped running. She walked and walked, freezing her legs about off, just wishing she had her snow-pants on. All the stores closed on account of the emergency so she couldn’t even get in anywhere warm. She had to walk all the way home, which was probably over five miles, ’cause when somebody had to walk somewhere back in the olden days, it was almost always at least five miles and usually up hill. That’s how far Dad had to walk to school. Mom rode buses most the time, ’cause she lived in the city and that’s how kids got around.
When I was a little girl and Mom was old, she still knew all about getting around on busses, even though we lived in the country. Once she dropped me and Deanna off at Smith Bridgeman’s and told us to get on the bus right outside the store and go to the end of the line, where she would pick us up. I didn’t even know what an “end of line” was, so I got all jittery in the stomach. “Honestly,” she said. “I went everywhere on the bus, when I was your age. You can get on one bus and ride it until the driver tells you to get off.” Well, I could, and I did, ’cause arguing with Mom would just get me called bull-headed, ’cause she had way more practice at arguing than I did, so I mostly lost, even though she said I should get on a debate team, I was such a good arguer. Anyways, I found out riding a bus was a good place to look at people who were way different from me, and way more interesting than anyone I knew at school or at church.
Mom like adventure, but not if it meant getting cold. She knew a poem about a guy who died trying to get home from the North Pole; not Santa Claus, he knows his way around, some other guy who thought he’d be the first explorer to get to the North Pole or some other super-cold place. In the poem, the adventurer went to hell and was happy about it ’cause at last he was warm as toast. When the devil showed up, home from all his gallivanting around earth, tempting and torturing people, all that dead North Pole adventurer had to say was “Close the Door. You’re letting a draft in.” Mom said she was hoping to go to Heaven, but she asked to be cremated, ’cause she never wanted to be cold in the after-life. Maybe she thought floating around on a cloud was sure to be drafty.