Conditioned Air

Summers are the best when you’re little.

So carefree, so fun.

You can play in water all time time, and sometimes you don’t even need a towel to dry off.

I didn’t have a pool of my own growing up. Well, we had one of those little two-foot pools that you had to hold up until it was full enough for the water to keep the sides from falling over. And if you didn’t lift your leg high enough while you were getting in, you lost half of your entertainment. It didn’t matter, though. It was water and it was cool and it was fun. We also had sprinklers in the front yard whenever we got bored swimming in water that barely came up to our knees. Being out front was fun because we could wave at cars as they went by and try to get them to honk for us.  No matter what we were doing or where we were, however, getting me out of the water and back inside was always a challenge. Especially if it was at someone else’s regular sized pool where I could stay underwater for long stretches of time and pretend I didn’t hear my name being called once…twice…middle name this time…before finally a threat was issued of the no-ice-cream-on-the-way-home proportion and the counting began.

Summers were hot in Boston. Water was a nice reprieve, but some days it was too hot for even that. Some days we’d go outside for just a little while before being so exhausted from the thickness in the air that we had to come inside. Immediately I would head to my bedroom, letting the conditioned air cool the droplets of sweat on my forehead.  I would lie on my bed until I didn’t feel like my blood was hot enough to cook pasta.

Sometimes, at night, I liked to take all of my blankets off and lie perfectly still. I would let the cool air creep over my body until I was actually cold. I would close my eyes and imagine a scenario – I would create a character for myself, a reason I would be stuck outside in the cold. I would picture myself huddled on a stoop, wearing nothing but torn shorts and a worn out t-shirt, wondering if I was going to survive the night. I would then imagine someone – an existing fictional character, usually, sometimes one entirely made up – coming outside and finding me there. Their heart breaking for me, they would take me inside and wrap me in the biggest, warmest blankets they had, holding me tight in their arms. I would simultaneously wrap myself in my own blankets, clutching Wishbear close to my chest, and drift off to sleep in my warm, happy place.

What? I never said I was a normal child.

I’ve just always liked cuddling. Perhaps it is from being spoiled with years of cool houses and air conditioners, but I cannot sleep without some sort of blanket being involved. Sometimes I can manage just kind of clutching the blanket near me, but usually I like to be totally under a sheet or some sort of covering. This is why now, being on my own and in an apartment with no air conditioning in what might possibly be the hottest city in the entire Northeast region of the United States, sleeping is a challenge. I have even tried lying perfectly still and trying to imagine feeling cold, but my dinky little window fan doesn’t do much. I have no pools to swim in, no sprinklers to skip through. The best I can do is take a cool shower to get my hair wet and sit around my house with hair damp of my own accord, not because I’m sweating.

However, with every summer full of sunshine and heat, soon followed an autumn of turning leaves and crisp air.  As sure as the pool went up every June, we would always have to go out into the backyard and fold down the edge of our two-foot pool come August.  We would watch as our summer fun slipped over our feet and past our ankles.  We would run down the dead-end street next to our house, following the trail of water down the cement hill to the sewer drain at the bottom, where we would listen as the water rushed down into an invisible, underground pool.

They refer to heat in waves. So all I have to do is lie perfectly still and wait for this heat wave to come to a crest and disappear into the air again.

Or, I need to buy a damn air conditioner.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 07/18/2011.

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