Last week I got home from work and started to unzip the extra-warm down coat with the faux fur hood that I've been wearing every day since Thanksgiving.
The zipper was stuck. No, it was more than stuck. It was broken. And for the four frozen days it took for my local dry cleaners to replace the zipper, I realized how much my dear parka meant to me and my cold commute.
It's been quite a winter for Chicagoans. I moved here back in 1994 and it's definitely the longest, coldest, most brutal winter I've ever experienced. The weather's been so unrelenting I'm tired of talking about it. You're tired of reading about it. But stick with me.
While the arrival of the polar vortex coincided with our move to a new house (yay, insulation and new windows), it turns out that with a full time job and two elementary school-aged kids, I can't stay inside reading and sipping tea and bourbon all day.
Fortunately, I found some coping strategies.The most important one is my Uniqlo HEATTECH leggings and long sleeve shirts. They're soft, incredibly insulating and they don't add bulk. I've also invested in tall, cozy Timberland boots that lend a trendy dog-sledding chic to my work ensembles. Top with a sweater, a down coat, mittens, a pom-pom hat that only minimally squashes my curls and a hand-knit cowl scarf pulled all the way up to my eyes, and I'm ready to walk to the Blue Line. Once I'm there, it could be 20 minutes before a cold-delayed train arrives, giving me plenty of time to melt my mascara with the warm, steamy breath trapped against my face. If there's a silver lining, it's that my lunch stays cold during my commute.
So it was with great relief that I finally made it back to King Spa in Niles last weekend. For three hours I walked on heated floors, sweated in steam rooms, soaked in hot tubs, dozed in saunas and filled my belly with hot noodle soup. It was just what I needed to steel myself for six more weeks of winter.
Alma Klein has been blogging since 2006. She works full-time as a creative director at a shopper marketing agency in Chicago and lives in the practically-perfect village of Oak Park with her husband Josh and elementary school-aged daughters.
See more of Alma's stories here.