It’s cold! It’s finally cold outside! Open up the windows! Swing open the French doors! Rattlesnakes be damned! I feel invincible. I can actually breathe again. I needed a sweatshirt this morning to walk with the dogs. Nothing can bring me down.
I love the desert in fall. I love the desert in winter. I love the desert until about April. And then I don’t. Then it turns into a hellish furnace that sucks the life out of me, my family and everything around us. Let’s be honest, April, May, June, July, August, September…that’s six whole months. When I first moved here, people systematically perpetuated the three month conspiracy theory. It went something like this, “Oh, you’ll love living here. The weather is perfect 9 months of the year. Then it gets a little hot. But you get used to it. Besides, it’s a dry heat.” OK, let’s look at this fabrication. No matter how you slice it, it gets unbearably hot in April and stays over 100 degrees well into October. Unless my math is frightfully mistaken, that only leaves 50% of the year where people can reasonably function outdoors.
So why does everyone lie about this? Why not just be honest and tell newcomers, “Here’s the thing, you’ll probably want to kill yourself by the time July rolls around. That’s totally normal. Everyone feels that way. But try to hang in there. October isn’t all that far off.” I would have been much better prepared to face the fiery reality if someone somewhere had told me what to expect.
It’s just like pregnancy. Nobody tells you that you’re gonna have unbearable acid reflux for 9 months, projectile vomit in the car on your way to prenatal yoga, and think seriously about downing an entire bottle of Vicodin at least three times a day to put yourself out of your misery. Instead, books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” describe pregnancy’s healthy glow and emotional euphoria. Come on. Wouldn’t it be better to fess up to the ugly reality awaiting expectant mommies than to set them up for failure by making them feel isolated, detached and forsaken?
We lie about everything! We tell people they look great when they look like crap. We swear up and down that we’re not angry when we’re literally fuming inside. We tell our kids that a big, jolly fat man is gonna come down the chimney on Christmas Eve and leave loads of presents for them. Why do we do this? Is reality truly that bleak?
What would life look like if we just started telling the truth?
“Sorry, Junior. No presents this Christmas. The economy’s in the toilet and we’re barely able to put food on the table. Now go do your homework.”
“You don’t really look fat in those jeans. But you do kind of resemble a sausage that’s been over-stuffed into too small of a skin. Maybe trousers would serve you better.”
“Wow, you must have spent a small fortune to decorate your house and make it look exactly the same as every other ‘contemporary’ Southwestern abode in the neighborhood. So much for individuality.”
I actually crave the opportunity to tell someone the truth. But no one wants to hear it. It’s too mean, too hurtful. We’re programmed to sugar-coat reality. Especially out here in the West. I remember when I first moved to California and everyone was so nice to me all the time. They’d promise me things to my face that would never come to fruition and say things behind my back that were completely opposed to what they’d sworn in a face to face encounter. I got into the habit of brazenly cutting people off mid compliment. “Look, I’m from Chicago,” I’d sneer, “Just tell me the truth.”
I’d like to tell you that I’m gonna go forth honestly from this point forward, that I’m gonna turn over a new leaf, that I’m committed to speak my mind, voice my inner truth, and stop perpetuating the falsehoods that abound. But I can’t. Because that would be…a lie.