Day 7: Tis bitter cold and I am sick at heart

Old Billy Shakes said it best in “Hamlet.” Today I truly felt Francisco’s pain. It was a bone-chilling -20°C with the horribly incessant wind. And of course, I had to spend hours outside wandering around in it. Allow me to explain.

After last night, I was in no mood to get up at 7:45 a.m., but church beckoned so up I got despite my half-a-headache (which is what I’ve decided to call the feeling of having a headache but only on one side of your head). We made it to the Met alright, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It really wasn’t one of my proudest mornings. I most certainly will not be doing that again.

On the way back from church, Nat and I decided today was the day we were going to go buy skates. Lindsay had already bought her pair yesterday, so the clock was ticking. We headed back to res for a couple hours, giving me time to finally complete my first copyediting job for my internship. It was loaded with simple mistakes like “its” instead of “it’s,” which was frankly very surprising. I figured spelling and grammar mistakes would be easy to catch just by running it through a spellcheck.

We set out at 2:30 p.m. Little did I know I wouldn’t be warm again for the next three and a half hours. Our first stop was Play It Again Sports, a store that sells used sports equipment, but they didn’t have my size. We asked the staff there if they could recommend any other stores that might sell more skates, and they pointed us to a bus stop down the street. It was supposed to be “right down the road,” but we ended up battling the bitter wind for at least four blocks (and these are not little New York blocks. These are massive, middle of nowhere, cow town blocks.)

When we finally hopped on the bus we were waiting for and headed to a specialty skate shop called Figure Eight. I wasn’t particularly keen on this one, but Nat wanted real figure skates. When we got to our stop, we realized our destination was still a good 10 minutes walk away. There were no paved sidewalks, and it was starting to get dark. Goodbye sunshine, not that it did much to warm us up.

I suppose it wasn’t all in vain though, because Nat did find a pair of skates. We had to sit around and wait for them to get sharpened, but I suppose it’s still a victory for her. I on the other hand emerged empty-handed. We decided to go to the mall where Lindsay got her skates (this could all have been avoided if we just made that decision right at the get-go). The staff in Figure Eight told us nearest bus stop was at Hurdman, which is a major bus transfer station. “Ten minutes walk,” she promised.

We were out there at the mercy of the elements for at least 20 minutes. That may not seem like a lot, but trust me. In subzero temperatures and a wind that bordered on tornado, it was like walking through hell, assuming hell had frozen over. I couldn’t feel my face. My fingers no longer bended at the joints. The only thing I could feel were my legs, and that’s only because they felt like they were on fire without the warmth. I never knew it was possible to feel like you were burning but with cold. The only term that comes to mind is freezer burn, but that makes me feel like a frozen piece of chicken. The sun was completely gone by this point and for some reason there were so many crows flying around overhead. It was like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe book. I’d completely forgotten the meaning of the word “warmth.”

When we finally made it to the station, Nat and I just collapsed onto the benches. There was no heat in there, but at least we were out of the wind, and that made all the difference. Already I felt like my whole body was on fire. We waited about 15 minutes before hopping onto our bus to the mall. It was only about three stops in that it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was past 5 p.m. on a Sunday. Closing time for malls in Ottawa.

Fortunately, I noticed we were passing by the intersection where the O-Train also stops (a direct trip back to school from there). We missed it by a stop, but I figured it couldn’t be far. The bus driver just pointed vaguely in the direction the bus had come. “Ten, 15, minutes walk,” he promised. Oh gee, where have I heard that before? Too late, we had already gotten off the bus and started walking in the middle of a deserted parking lot surrounded by Canada Post buildings. I contemplated momentarily just curling up on the side of the street and just freezing for the rest of winter to be thawed in the spring.

After meandering aimlessly in the cold wind (yet again), I finally saw a street I recognized and we hurried as quickly as frozen limbs can hurry towards the station. Our only stroke of luck happened to be that the train was pulling in just as we arrived. Thank goodness. And so by 6 p.m. I made it back to school with no skates and no feeling left in my extremities. My whole face was completely red from the windburn and my arms and legs were covered in splotchy red patches. It was all very attractive. I’m still not sure I’ve completely warmed up yet. I am never doing that again.

Fortunately, it seems I won’t have to. Lindsay heard about our misadventure and said she’d drive me to the mall tomorrow. Thank goodness for friends who have cars.

Now I have other matters to worry about. I have to find an interesting person to profile for the Charlatan by Friday afternoon. I have a few ideas but so far it’s been near impossible to find people. It’s just like shopping for skates (or anything for that matter). When you’re not looking for it, it’s everywhere, in the way even, just mocking you with its constant presence. But the minute you start looking for it, nowhere! I’m almost ready to call it a scientific law. It’s that reliable. When you actually need to look for something, guaranteed it will never be there. Such is life.

Let’s just say it’s days like this that act as the antithesis for what constitutes a good day.

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