Yesterday’s high here in Bakersfield was 80 degrees; today’s was 55, with a low of 38. More than eight years of living here has proven to this native Angeleno that California does indeed have seasons. Maybe not like Rhode Island, where I lived for almost eight years—on those first few winter breaks home from college, we Californians would run around in shorts, jacketless, laughing at our sweatered and scarved friends who hadn’t left the state—but our springs are heralded by almond, pistachio, citrus, and stone fruit blossoms, our trees change colors and drop their leaves in the fall, and in the winter we are visited by fog and cold. We wear hats and scarves and gloves unironically in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
Let me be clear that I love it that we do have seasons here. But here’s my problem. All summer long my SAHD uniform has been t-shirt, shorts, sandals. I haven’t worn socks except for on special occasions and at our twice-weekly visits to the kiddie gym, where it’s required of the grown-ups. And now, all of a sudden, it’s cold. Not refreshingly brisk. Cold. And this first day is just the harbinger of colder days (and nights) to come. And with the cold comes a necessary change in wardrobe.
And so not only do I have to break out the socks from their summer hiding place, I have to go through them to see if I indeed own any matching pairs that are more-or-less hole-less. I don’t think that I have particularly rough or calloused soles, but socks don’t remain intact for long for me. That goes for the good old white athletic socks as well as the thinner black/brown/grey ones that pass for dressy.
And pants. Now that it’s no longer shorts weather, I have to see which pants are still wearable, some months after my workout routine, which had led me to believe I could go back to a size I hadn’t been able to wear in years, had become, well, less routine. But not only do I need to make sure things fit [and did I mention that in my weight-loss-induced hysteria I also allowed myself to buy less baggy styles that even then felt weird—um, why are these pants so low over here and so tight over there?—but feel even weirder now, especially if I try to put a wallet or an iPhone or a pacifier in a pocket and get it back out again] but I need to make sure there’s no, um, undue draft.
Scene from this evening at the kiddie gym— A little boy to me: “There’s a hole.” Me: “What?” Him, pointing at my knee: “There’s a hole in your pants.” Me, sighing: “I know.” His mom to him, pulling him aside: “That’s just the style.” Me, silently: “Yeah, no.”
Again, just like with the socks, I don’t think I’m any rougher on my jeans (which take the place of the shorts in my fall and winter SAHD uniform] than any other guy, probably even less. But somehow seams start to fray in undesirable places, and, most of all, tears appear, inevitably, in the right knee that get bigger and bigger until the entire front is one long horizontal gash. And yes, it’s always the right knee. Am I really kneeling on the ground really hard a lot? I have no idea. And quality doesn’t seem to matter. Low end, high end, it’s all the same—the high end ones even seem to go faster (not that my high end is very high in a world of $300 jeans, Banana Republic’s my limit).
So, the cold’s here, and I’ve got two year-old pairs of jeans which would normally serve as the bedrock of my uniform but which are either too tight in all the wrong places or have gigantic holes in the knee. I know I need to go buy some new ones, but that means finding the time and/or lugging one or two kids along with me, plus the time and cost of alteration (because I’m squat and short, you know).
Okay, I should quit complaining. At least I have clothes, and money to buy new ones, and yes, fall and winter are beautiful here. But I’m just being honest here; when the temperatures dip, my first reaction? “Crap. Where are my pants?”