It was below zero when I left the house this morning, bundled in layers of wool and down and leather and nylon and cotton and plastic. The ride was not unpleasant, somehow, even if I had to stop twice to scrape out the inside of my goggles. At the first stop, it was condensation from my breath, carefully controlled in little puffs that still wasn't enough to keep the hot steam from sticking to the inside of the cooled plastic. At the second, it was frost, and my fingers were already too numb to be bothered by touching ice.

My thumbs were the coldest part of my body, separated furthest from my central source of heat by virtue of their opposibleness, their one virtue that makes them such a special appendage. My other fingers implemented the buddy system, bound in pairs inside my cycling gloves to minimize loss of heat while still retaining some amount of dexterity. Together, all of my fingers were the vanguard, the forward-most part of my flesh and blood perched on top of my bicycle. The faster I dared to ride through the slush and slipping cars, the more my fingers suffered, but I knew that it meant less time in the cold.

When I got to my building, I dismounted and walked my bicycle through the first floor hallway, dripping salted snow onto tile floors that are impossible to keep clean in this season, numbly opening doors by inserting my hand up to the wrist through the pull handles. I punched the elevator button with no regret; I felt that I earned my ride of two floors down into the basement.

A man stopped as he passed me and watched as I impatiently peeled off layer after layer; the heated indoors air was warmer than the bubble of cold now trapped inside my well-insulated attire, and I was desperate to thermoregulate again.

"I normally bike to work, but today I was afraid of frostbite."

"Well, sure. It wasn't that bad out."

I smiled and gave him a nod as the elevator doors slid open. He was only passing through to the next building.

22 January 2014 19:40

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