From Hormones to Ozone, Irreversible, Existential Change Is a Bitch
An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan is moments away from breaking off of Antarctica and calving into the Atlantic Ocean. A large-footed mouse from Australia, the Bramble Cay melomys, was just identified as the first mammal to go extinct from human-driven climate change. And last month’s weather broke snow, rain, and heat records from coast to coast in the United States.
So I feel I should apologize, as I may be to blame. You see, my internal climate is suddenly warming at an alarming rate. Like, a wildfire-through-drought-ravaged-chaparral rate.
These hot flashes I’m having, I can’t say they’re a complete surprise. Scientists have been predicting them for years. Friends said they were inevitable. But I guess you can call me a hormone-change denier because, like the maniacal weather that’s beginning to wreak havoc on our lil blue planet, I just didn’t think that Aging Broad Syndrome would happen so soon, or that it would begin impacting my daily life quite this quickly.
I was the girl who spent my life shivering. Shoving bloodless fingers deeper into jacket pockets and hopping from one leg to the other to revivify my circulation whenever the air plunged cruelly below 68 degrees. I stashed extra socks in my purse and stuffed hoodies and windbreakers into the nooks of my car for those emergency situations when I might have to endure an offshore breeze.
Then a few weeks ago, from out of thin-but-highly-combustible air, my core reactor began to randomly ignite at inopportune moments. Dinner parties. Meetings with my boss. The middle of exercise class, when I’m already flushed and dewy with exertion. Add “flushed and dewy with lack of estrogen” to that mix, and suddenly I’m drenched and feverish, like a wet sponge in a microwave, cooking from the inside out, eyes bulging with blazing confusion.
The cause of hot flashes is “They literally have no idea at all,” and natural remedies include avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which I’m unlikely to do, and ingesting something called dong quai, which … you know what? I’ll skip the coffee and booze, thanks. So I face this menopausal metamorphosis the same way we all face global warming: against my will, with no choice and in need of stronger deodorant.
I can’t help noticing quite a few parallels between climate change and, well, “the change.” As sea levels rise and coastal cities flood, I’m waking at night in pools of my own sweat. As drought shrivels our landscapes, I’m told that my own biology will begin to make my skin dry. As hurricanes tear through powerless communities, I await the squall of mood swings that may eventually hijack my mind and bedevil my family. And these similarities are just the tip of the iceberg … as it were.
Perhaps it’s a stretch. I realize that one of these changes is happening on a microscale sparked by infinitesimal shifts in invisible hormones within the perspiring body of a lone middle-aged suburban chick, and the other will play out over the entire tortured Earth, devastating nations and oceans, altering human life as we know it and annihilating entire species. #MelomysWeHardlyKnewYou
But they are both fairly epic to me. I don’t care for change, particularly of the uninvited, irreversible, existential variety. The kind that stirs insomnia, irritability, and uncontrolled weeping — and both of these types do.
There’s no denying it, though: A different, decalescent world is asserting itself all up in our business. And if we’ve learned anything from the Bramble Cay melomys, it’s that adaptation is life. I can adapt. I will adapt, and so will you. Scientists say mammals and birds are better suited than other animals for surviving global warming.
So when the floods come, look for me on high ground. My metabolism will have slowed, so you may not recognize me. I’ll be the one with the dry skin and the wet shirt, fanning myself with my “You’re Not Losing Your Mind, You’re Losing Your Hormones” booklet. And snorting dong quai off a rock.