Eating Ice Cream During a Polar Vortex

A few days ago, I was sitting in my apartment as the temperatures outside began to drop. In Chicago, like much of the midwest, we were experiencing some really cold temperatures as a result of a polar vortex pushing cold air from the arctic down from the North.

On Sunday night, Chicago Public Schools announced they would be closing. Other schools soon followed suit (including colleges like DePaul). Temperatures would be getting to around -15F (and dipping to -35F, if you subscribe to wind chill calculations). Most people in Chicago made plans to work from home, and the smart ones stocked up on a bit of food.

Me? I was sitting in my living room, eating ice cream. And then it hit me:

I was sitting, quite comfortably, in my apartment digging into a cold dessert while the major story dominating the news was the cold. With the extremely low temperatures, any kind of prolonged exposure was risky – frostbite a serious concern. If you were homeless, it would be incredibly dangerous (if not outright life-threatening) to remain out in the elements.

And it struck me then, just how absolutely and ludicrously indulgent it was for me, to be eating ice cream on a night like tonight. How luxurious it was, to be safe and warm inside… and to be so comfortable as to be shoveling ice cream in my mouth, when others are struggling to simply find a warm place to sleep. When I realized the context, eating ice cream felt so incredibly decadent to me… it seemed wrong.

It dawned on me, my tremendous good fortune – how lucky I was, to be born into this century, into this country, into a family that showered me with love and education and opportunities. There are so many random things that I have to be thankful and grateful for.

And so as a personal note, I wanted to post this here so I would remember the moment. If there’s some future point in my life where I complain about hardships, or bemoan any unfortunate circumstances that might make things a little uncomfortable for me… I need to remember this night. I need to remember eating dessert with sub-zero temperatures outside, and just how silly and lucky I was to be able to do such a thing.

I need to remember holding a pint of ice cream in one hand, and how in the other I was holding what damn near looked to be a silver spoon.

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