I grew up along the 45th parallel, and within the last six months, moved south about 12 degrees. When put into a number like that, it sounds very small, but the difference is enormous. There are flowers blooming all through the winter here. That was a little disorienting in December. That kind of stuff is finally starting to sink in, but what still surprises me is the difference in my skin.

I spent huge amounts of time last summer lying in the sun up at the 45th parallel. I was barely working, and living with my folks. I was occasionally called upon to babysit my nephew (a taxing job but generally enjoyable) but I had tons of free time, and I spent hours every week just lying in the full sun, enjoying the warmth. This wasn’t something I had spent much time doing before last summer, but I found I really really enjoyed it. I found that my stress (about moving, about wedding planning, about general life-with-depression) melted away. It was awesome! But even though I was doing this quite a lot, and I never wore sunscreen (except on my face… I am vain and sun damage causes wrinkles!), my skin stayed pretty much the same light shade. I developed a hint of color, but not much.

12 degrees further south and I find that after an hour or so of direct sunlight, I start getting splotchy freckles on my arms and chest. These freckles fade away into a light tan shortly after I come inside. This is completely fascinating to me. My skin never did this before! I didn’t even know it was a thing I could do! It is like some kind of pointless superpower. And why don’t my legs do it? They definitely get a bit darker, but they skip the blotchy freckle stage. What’s up with that?