ice between the sheets

I have an affinity for the cold.

It started with overnight van rides; my parents would pile all six of us kids into the van and drive all night between wherever we were living at the time (Texas, Virginia, or Maryland) and Massachusetts (where our relatives lived). I'd curl up in one of the upright with a large blanket, pop open the side window just enough to let in the cold streaming air, and fall asleep.

I can remember finding the air conditioning vent in my bedroom. Late at night, after my brothers were asleep, I'd take my sleeping bag and find a place on the floor next to the vent. Curling the sleeping bag over my head and vent, I had my own private cooling unit. 

During the summer, I keep my townhouse a cool 65 degrees (unless I know I am going to be having guests, in which case I may take mercy upon them and ease it up to 70). Over the winter months, I often forgo using the heater entirely and may go so far as to crack the windows in my bedroom. When I slip into bed at night, I'm often shivering, but it takes only minutes for my body to warm the sheets while the blankets to keep the heat against my skin. 

When I was teenager, I would brace myself at the end of a hot shower and ease the hot water off until the water wasn't simply cold, it was frigid. I'd count to five, or ten, depending on how brave I was, and then quickly shut off the water completely. Shaking, I'd reach for a towel to dry off my tingling skin, and hurry to get dressed, doing whatever I could to warm up.

It's not being cold itself appeals me – it's the contrast that it provides, something sharp enough to wake up my nerve endings, the release of endorphins as my body is shocked into awareness. It's not so different from my attachment to gourmet food, cloves, or wine. I am a hedonist at heart, and indulging in tactile contrasts is just one way to enjoy the joys of the flesh.

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