The most common questions I’ve been asked during winter days or in an air-conditioned environment are, “Aren’t you cold?”; “Are you wearing enough?”; “Is this all you are wearing?” Interestingly, I’ve read that autistic individuals tend to prefer cold and are intolerant of humidity. I wonder why and how reliable this observation is.
Given my natural preference for the cold, it is no wonder I find myself at natural odds with the country I grew up in. It would be silly to think that just because I grew up in a hot tropical climate like Singapore where it stays hot and humid throughout the year, I would be used to the heat. It is the one thing I hate most growing up (it still is). There seems to be a lack of flow and movement in the air that makes me feel discomfort, the constant still air and oppressive heat that surrounds the atmosphere and the lingering sour smell of sweat made worse by the humidity and the stiff bulky fabric of the school uniform that sticks uncomfortably on my skin. The weather makes me restless, I feel as though I am a dehumidifier that is sucking up all the humidity, in return the stale air is sucking up all my energy.
Often I have to explain to people that I am prone to sweat a lot, but people often underestimate what I mean by that. By “sweat a lot”, I mean at the end of a hike, even during a winter day, every strands of my hair and needless to say my body would be soaking wet and dripping water as if I’ve just gotten out of a shower, while most of my fellow hikers’ hair still remain seemingly dry. By “sweat a lot”, I mean that during summer days, my hair gets wet from sweat even just walking in the streets. Despite my preference for cold, I don’t mind hiking in hot weather and I also enjoy a relaxing beach holiday under the sun. This is because five years in the UK has taught me to appreciate the sun and heat. However, I must be in the proper attire for the activity, it is a different issue if I am expected to wear a suit and look presentable. During winter days in Hong Kong, I rarely find a need to wrap myself in more than two layers of clothing. Firstly, amidst the chaos of navigating the streets, I often find myself folding my sleeves up at some point as a result of my agitation and fast speed walking. Secondly, I can’t stand the stark contrast between the cold temperature outside and the warm conditions in poorly ventilated crowded buses and trains. I wear less not merely because I don’t feel cold but given a choice, I rather be wearing less and feel cold than to wear more and feel hot. For some reasons, stuffy and poorly ventilated environment makes me feel even more claustrophobic.
I can’t stand humidity so much that one of my favourite activities is walking in the rain, especially during my younger days in Singapore and I never once fell ill because of it. I don’t mean just a drizzle but pouring rain and raining cats and dogs. As the sky turns darker and gloomier, my mood lightens and brightens up. While the heat and humidity depletes my energy, the splashing rain refreshes me. Whenever it rains, I find excuses for stepping out of the classroom just so I could catch the rain. Some classmates find me weird because of this. I didn’t care if I would be the only one totally drenched in the class or in the bus, the arrival of rain just makes me feel happy I felt immune to the external world. I often find myself talking to the rain as if it is the only being that understands me. Even when I’m indoors, I will open the window and stretch my hand out. I like to feel the gentle touch of the rain on my palms, they are so comforting like words of assurances. Sometimes the rain falls like snow flakes but when it is raining heavily, they seem like diamonds falling from the sky. I swear I could feel an affinity with rain because on days when I am down, I pray for rain to come and it did, or even if it didn’t, the sky would just seem gloomier.
Now that I’ve grown up, I still walk in the rain when the occasion arises but I don’t purposely seek out the rain like I used to. Nonetheless, when it rains, I have a self-imposed standard on when to use an umbrella and will only use it if the rain is heavier than the water from my shower head.
Featured image credit: Snoopy [10 April 2013]. Wednesday morning with Snoopy and Woodstock [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/Snoopy/photos/pb.161564697227628.-2207520000.1457246737./538034092914018/?type=3&theater