We're back on the west coast, and IT IS HOT.
(Hot, hot, damhot, in Southernese.)
I am spoiled.
I’ve forgotten what it feels like to live in a house with no air conditioning.
It’s in the high 80’s, low 90’s here in West L.A. (100’s further inland.) Lower humidity than home, but that doesn’t seem to matter around 4:00 p.m. or so. If you try to take a nap to escape for a while, a trickle of sweat will wake you up. Then you’re even grouchier.
I was born in a hospital with no air conditioning. On a day in June when the temperature was 102. My mother has fond memories of the experience. (Or she did until recently.) I went to schools with no air conditioning. My home didn’t have central air until I was 10 years old.
In those days, Back-to-School jitters were intensified by the knowledge that you’d soon be trading the cool waters of an all-day pool adventure (complete with ice cream), for the torture of sticking to a hot wooden seat with sweat pooling under your pretty little cotton dress and starchy petticoat. (*BF, could you please send me that pic of us on the first day of First Grade? Pretty please?)
Anyway, I should be accustomed to scorching, unairconditioned afternoons. It shouldn’t be such a shock. But I feel like I’m in a time warp. The Depression South of literature.
Does anyone remember Harper Lee’s description of the heat in To Kill A Mockingbird?
Maybe I’m in a scene from Streetcar Named Desire. I think I hear Stanley Kowalski screaming on the sidewalk beside my open window. (But this one has a different accent.)
Too much heat can change your personality. Make you into someone petty and mean and lazy and crazy.
I feel like my brain is baking.
Tensions soar as the thermometer rises. Fuses are short. Tempers are as hot as the burning air.
Yesterday, an older woman stood on the corner across from the house and screamed profanity. But I didn’t see anyone else around. Maybe she was just cussing out the air.
When I’m perpetually hot like this, all I want to do is escape.
Instead, I walk around the house as scantily clad as possible. On extreme days, I leave the tub full of tepid water and take frequent dippings throughout the long afternoons. We keep the blinds shut, the lights off. Anything to take it down a notch or two.
Why have I become such a baby… a wimp?
I bet Katie in Uganda doesn’t live in an air-conditioned house. I wonder what percent of the world’s population even has the ability to “control climate.” I tried to Google the question, and ran across some interesting articles.
Many environmentalists are concerned that our obsession with keeping cool is actually contributing to global warming. Yikes. What will it feel like in 10 or 15 years? 70,000 people died from heat-related causes in the European Heat Wave of 2003. Less than 10 years ago.
This sentence from an article in Salon made me contemplate:
“…we get into a downward spiral with air conditioning, because science shows that our biological tolerance for the heat is eroded if we spend almost all of our time in climate-controlled bubbles.” (“Losing Our Cool,” Ryan Brown, Salon.)
I want to live in a bubble.
A bubble whose luminescent borders keep out discomfort, pain, inconvenience, and ugliness. I want an anesthetized life.
But that not’s a real life.
The quote above revealed what’s wrong with me:
…years of ease have eroded my tolerance for discomfort.
I’ve been desultorily writing this over a period of days. Five minutes here, five there. I’m not going to lie. This has been an extremely hard and stressful time. Katherine is still in active pain and having terrible side effects from the meds. Situations have been complicated. Even a bath is a complicated and exhausting procedure. The unusual heat has exacerbated the suffering. We’re all feeling frayed around the edges.
Yesterday morning, I read this in my quiet time:
“…it is important not to be surprised or alarmed by the many trials that enter your life. Until you reach your ultimate home in heaven, you will be at war. When you have a wartime mentality, it’s easier to handle difficulties as they arise: You don’t waste time and energy bemoaning your circumstances; you avoid the trap of feeling singled out for hardship.
I do indeed equip you fully to handle your difficulties. But you have to have to make the effort to use what I provide: My Presence, My Word, and My Spirit. Come to me when you are heavy-laden and you will find rest for your soul.” (Dear Jesus, Sarah Young, page 102.)
And I remember:
The tolerance we manage to develop in dealing with the small battles in life equips us with the stamina to fight the big ones.
We’ve got plenty of big ones to fight around here.
Help me put my big girl panties on… and deal.
Okay, you know that I’m prone to hyperbole. It’s cooled down a few degrees in the meantime. My body is learning to tolerate. My son-in-law has promised to find me a window unit. And James and I have found a great way to escape. (Not to mention the weekend trip the whole family made to a wonderful resort.) So don’t feel too sorry for whiny old me.
Is anyone else old enough to remember when schools weren't air conditioned?
Is anyone else affected by the heat like this, or is it just me?
Best way to escape a sweltering day in L.A.????
Best dime I ever spent.
"...the cool waters of an all-day pool adventure (complete with ice cream...)"