For the past several months I have been wearing long underwear beneath my jeans. My mom brought me two pairs when she visited in November, and I haven’t taken them off since. This winter has been the coldest I’ve ever endured, especially coming from California where I am used to trips to the beach in the days following New Year’s. These longjohns have been my savior, staving off hypothermia, always giving my freezing legs a nice, warm, comforting hug. I’ve developed quite a relationship with these guys.
But last week, the strangest thing happened. I went outside, and I was hot. I walked through the streets confused, completely unable to run my errands like I planned. I looked into the reflections of storefront windows to see if I was accidentally wearing many more clothes than I thought. But it wasn’t the clothes, it was the sun. The sun had somehow actually managed to raise the surrounding temperature to a livable 53 degrees. I let out a deep sigh in disbelief (finally, a sigh I couldn’t see).
I immediately walked very quickly back to my house and up to my room where I ripped off all of my clothes, including my long underwear. I stared at their limp, hollow form for a good two minutes before looking into the mirror at my pale, naked legs. I was free. These underwear that had been a miracle for so long were suddenly totally obsolete. I started to put back on my clothes. I opted not to grab the extra jacket, I wore sandals, and my wrists were left exposed.
The walk downstairs out of my apartment building into the open air was full of apprehension. Had I imagined the sun? Were the sandals overly optimistic?
I stepped outside and was overcome with an intense happiness, one that only exists in the company of short sleeves. Without thinking, I skipped over to the bike lock-up station, took out a bike, hopped on and skidded off towards the river. I pulled my bike down the nearest set of stairs to get to the water. I rode north along the bank, passing brightly-dressed families, shirtless French men, kids with ice cream. Every seat along the water was suddenly filled with people, the warm weather having pulled us all out of our houses. Everyone was smiling, and as I biked I let out silly, giggly laughs. Giddiness was splashing about everywhere. It was spilling out of the cold drinks of the people sitting at the riverboat cafes. Romance was falling from the trees.
Suddenly, spring had sprung. Lyon was no longer trapped in the cold, keeping its people holed up in their bedrooms or hiding behind scarves. I made my way to park, my legs sore from biking for the first time in a long while and my cheeks sore from smiling. I had a little glass of sangria. I took a ride on a paddle boat. It was perfect.
Now, with a little over a month left here, I plan on participating fully in this French springtime. More ice cream! More walks! More smiles! And no more long underwear.