I am all for saving the earth. Hang-drying my clothes, recycling, organic food, public transportation, even cloth diapers, I am willing to do a lot. But I have one energy-gluttonous indulgence that I just can’t give up. Incandescent light bulbs.
I think I can trace these feelings back to the year we lived in Vancouver (not B.C.), Washington (not D.C.). Situated just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, Vancouver is lushly green almost to an excess. Spring is a seemingly endless cavalcade of beautiful flowers, and visits to nearby woods resemble an excursion into the Lost World. But these botanical marvels are dearly paid for – by a long, dark, rainy, miserable winter. When we prepared to move to Vancouver from San Diego, people warned us about the winter blues. But I didn’t believe them. Even when I saw the abnormally tall windows and skylights in our house, I didn’t understand.
Sure enough, a few months into the winter, I gave in and admitted that I was seriously depressed. I remember finally desperately making the two-hour trip to the beach (all the while nursing visions of long, sandy, sun-drenched Southern California beaches), only to find that the rain was (if possible) colder and wetter as it blew in off the ocean.
But it wasn’t the rain so much that killed me. It was the lack of light. Sometimes the sun didn’t come out for days. It reminded me of a science fair experiment I did as a child, in which I grew plants under different colors of cellophane to see which color of light the plants liked best. I dutifully kept one poor little plant under a black plastic garbage bag, since I didn’t have any black cellophane. You can imagine the result. It was like that for us in Vancouver. When winter approached again, we gave up and moved back to San Diego.
I don’t remember how long it took me to get back to taking perfect weather for granted. But whenever I went inside, I craved light. My brother-in-law, who made the same moves we did, came back to San Diego from Washington with an addiction to tanning beds, so I guess I got off easy. I just developed a serious aversion to florescent light bulbs. You know those ones that are the same size as regular light bulbs? The ones that last twenty times as long and use 20% of the electricity? Yeah, they sound perfect. But they make me feel bad. They depress me. There is something wrong with the light. No matter how nice the room is, it makes you feel like you’re in a prison, or under the swollen, dying sun of a hostile planet. Even the ones that claim to be “soft white light” or “snuggly warm relaxingly beautiful light” don’t fool me.
Unfortunately, those are the exact bulbs with which our apartment came equipped. I’ve been suffering for a month as summer turns gradually colder and darker. Well, last night we finally went out and bought some real old-fashioned light bulbs. Hallelujah! I feel like I’m alive again. It may be possible now for me to survive a winter outside of San Diego, now that I’m living again in blissful incandescence.