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rhode island: cooler and warmer [lifestyle]

april showers bring may flowers

If Punxsutawney Phil was right, as he always is, spring is well under way. That should mean that this return from Spring Break marks a period of rejuvenation. I left the bulk of my coats at home and switched them for garments that liberated my knees. Soon, the Main Green will be my go-to spot to sip my Blue Room iced coffee and play lawn games. To me, spring is a much more motivating time to refresh oneself than January’s New Year. 

My spring wardrobe and spikeball net are not the only things coming out of hibernation. Spring is a transitional season, the mental preparation for the heat to come. Therefore, I think everyone should adopt their own aphorism, a saying to guide them through the changes ahead. As a result, I am proud to launch my spring motto: Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer


Approximately a month ago, I was sitting in my VISA 0100 class learning about color theory when my professor said, “It’s like Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer.” They were referring to colors having hues that are cooler and warmer. For example, a grape purple is much cooler than a wine purple. However, the way they announced this to the class is what packed the punch. We have a relatively relaxed learning environment, but the studio was silent as my professor declared, “It’s like Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer.” The phrase has been helpful as I move through my acrylic paintings, sure, but the thing is, I have yet to go a single day without saying to myself, "Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer."

For some context, my professor did not come up with this saying: it was a part of a confusing marketing campaign released in 2016 by Rhode Island's Commerce Corporation. They sought to promote Rhode Island as a tourist destination and spur economic growth. They wanted to convey that Rhode Island has attractions that are “cooler,” as in the sunglasses-wearing emoji, while having a “warmer” welcoming atmosphere. So why does a failed media campaign from 2016 have such a grip on my brain? For a state promotional slogan, it is pretty terrible––many found it puzzling and incredibly silly (derogatory). The project became the source of inspiration for regional memes and the butt of many jokes. If I was aware of Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer when it debuted, it probably would have been via a BuzzFeed compilation of tweets to which I inaudibly chuckled at, and never thought about again. However, for the spring, it’s all that’s been on my mind. 

Being cooler and warmer is less of a lukewarmness, a combination, but more so a simultaneous ability to see both sides like Chanel. Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer is so vague, with no real substance, yet it is specific because it only applies to around 1,200 square miles. It’s one of those sayings where you can project everything onto it. Initially, I thought the phrase was purely a reference to Rhode Island’s coastal climate that’s milder than the rest of New England because I’m from a town that only wants to talk about its microclimate. However, as I mutter these five words to myself every day, I have come to realize why I am so drawn to it. Spoiler: it’s not about the microclimates.

The primary reason for my infatuation with Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer is that I love bromides with a burning passion, and Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer seems to encapsulate my favorites: Trust the Process, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, and Capture the Dream. Together, they form a motivating cycle—if I trust the process, I can work collaboratively, which makes my dreams come true, which I then have attained because I trusted the process, and so on. I keep these sayings at the forefront of my mind because they help me maintain a balanced rhythm. Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer, because of its push and pull, is another grounding phrase. Again, it’s not a mottled mess, but a dual perspective. I also admit it's a bunch of baloney. However, its silliness (affirmative) lets me pause and not take myself too seriously. 

There have been numerous times this semester when I was unsure of why I was where I was—and whether being at Brown was worth it or not. My discomfort came from a social standpoint because I feel like for the past two or so years, I’ve met people and then left before I ever really got to know them. This stems from taking a gap year after high school, where I only stuck around for a month or so in any given place, and then from transferring to Brown. I think I’ve met more people in the past two years than I had in the previous 18. While I feel fortunate to have had such opportunities, I often question why I would uproot myself so many times. 


Over spring break, I visited my old campus. My ID still worked and I slept in my former bed. It was easy to feel comfortable slipping back into the routine of my previous life. My authentic smile and genuine laughs were a reminder that I have no inside jokes in Rhode Island yet, not in the way they existed in California. After transferring, it felt like I was getting cooler, farther away, from my supposed path in life by not sticking to any one location. I was socially content before, so in that respect there was no need to start from scratch. Then I remember that I’ve wanted to come here for as long as I knew what college was. I spent so many days at my old school walking away from a class frustrated because nothing happened. Everyone would joke about transferring, knowing they would never have the courage to actually do it. I feel warmer knowing that my dream has become a reality, and the reality met my expectations. I finally am proud of where I am. I have not settled for in-between—I have both perspectives, and by having both, they stabilize each other. 

Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer would not fulfill its duties as my spring motto without completely opposite and unserious applications to counteract the gravity it holds. Small daily tasks like munching on a corn muffin get a Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer. Walking down George Street instead of Waterman to get to the RISD Museum? Sometimes Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer. Going to Andrews so that I can stockpile coffee milk cartons in my mini-fridge? Of course Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer. It makes sense to me when I say it, but I would have trouble explaining all the seemingly random times I mutter it to myself.

This spring, I am not necessarily encouraging everyone to whisper to themselves Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer on every staircase they climb in a day. Well, I kind of am, but the purpose is not to promote this phrase in particular. You need to find your own Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer—an incantation to cast as we embark on the last month of classes; a reminder that is maybe incoherent to others. As is with most things, it is about the mindset and approach. So go out, and Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer. 

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