My spirit was officially broken today. As a California kid I’ve never really dealt with cold before, and have been struggling in the frigid temperatures of my site for some time now. But only today, when my toilet was frozen over solid, was I faced with such a soul-rending and seemingly insurmountable obstacle that I couldn’t deal with it. My toilet is inside my house for Pete’s sake.
I haven’t been able to feel all my toes simultaneously for well over a month now… no big thing. I’ve grown accustomed to the slight haze that envelopes my head as every exhalation I take turns to fog and floats up over my face. My schedule has adjusted to allow for the 15 minute pre-departure preparations that include such things as the wrapping of scarves, the pulling on of absurd amounts of layers of underclothing, adjustment of fold down flaps on my hat and checking for any potential exposures to the outside frigidness. But the toilet did me in.
As I stared down at the layer of ice thwarting my most basic human necessity, I should have known that trying to flush it down was a poor idea, but who can be blamed for mental lapses in these conditions. The lid of ice didn’t flush down, oh no…in fact it formed an impenetrable barrier. My normally cat-like reflexes, numbed by the below freezing temperatures inside my own home only allowed me to watch as the receptacle filled and overflowed. The frozen nerves in my toes made no mention to the proper mental authorities that the wool socks surrounding them were taking on water. It wasn’t until I felt the water on my lower ankle that I snapped back to reality. And a cold reality it was. After cleaning up what I could, leaving the rest to freeze until the spring thaw, I dried myself by my heater for the requisite 45 minutes. Redressed, refreshed and ever the resilient volunteer, I started heating water and found something to use as an icepick.
As if the Peace Corps’ experience didn’t provide enough gastrointestinal issues already.