Christ, it's hot. 102 yesterday, humidity so thick you could slice it with a butter knife. I hate the heat. I feel like a hippo sitting in a bowl of clam chowder. How many other metaphors can I pull out of my incredibly sweaty swamp ass? Oh, I know - I feel like I've been baked inside of a cake, and the humidity is a thick spread of buttercream frosting on top. I. Hate. The. Heat. I do not understand people who live for the summer, who love to sweat, who thrive on the sunlight. Meanwhile, I sit at home with all of my curtains drawn, every single fan running on HI, stripped down to my underwear, all of my energy turned to sweat. I blow through antiperspirant like a kid blows through a pillowcase full of Halloween candy: I smear it in my armpits, under my tits, the backs of my knees, the hollows of my temples. My hair stays in a tight bun for months - by the time I release it in autumn, it's grown six inches. I hate wearing jeans - they superglue themselves to my bloated thighs and strangle my flesh like sausage skin. My ankles swell up like little inner tubes floating on top of my shoes. I live on ice water, cold cheese, olives and macaroni salad from June to August.
Yesterday morning, as I readied myself for my obligatory 10 hour shift, I looked out of the second story bathroom window and watched the three year old who lives next door play in her inflatable wading pool. And I remembered that there was a time when summer didn't seem so hot, when the heat wasn't so unbearable, when sweat and I hadn't yet met and become enemies. I used to love the summer. I would spend all day in the swimming pool of whatever apartment complex we were currently living in. I never tired of the smell of chlorine and hot concrete. Endless games of Marco Polo while somebody's cheap transistor radio played The Pointer Sisters. Breaks at noon to walk up to the corner store and buy Cokes, chips and whatever else would go with the hamburgers and hot dogs that would be ready by the time we got back. Breaks around 3pm to go grab Sarah's (or Tracy's, or Melissa's) dad another beer. Around 4pm, the ice cream truck would trundle up and we'd run out to buy Push-Ups or Bomb Pops or Drumsticks. There was never any danger. We didn't worry about going to the grocery store alone. No one ever bothered us. Skin cancer wasn't a concern. If we got sunburned, mom had Noxema. If we got mosquito bites, mom had pink Calamine lotion that she'd dab on with cotton balls. West Nile virus and Zika were alien words. not yet introduced into our common lexicons.
I think I started hating summer that first year we lived in Pennsylvania. We lived in a landlocked area and the humidity was so dense as to be suffocating. I remember, laying down to sleep at night for weeks on end, the oscillating fans barely able to cut through the thick blanket of heat. We had no AC. On the east coast, AC is still a stranger. Even ceiling fans are considered a bit of a luxury item. Here in Rhode Island, we get relief from the breezes that blow in off of the nearby bay. But not in Pennsylvania. Heat lightening flared moodily along the horizon and thunder would rumble sulkily, but the rain never fell. Until, suddenly, it did. The amps went up to eleven on those nights. The wind would pick up the sagging curtains and send them flapping horizontally. The rain would come down in sheets so thick you couldn't see through it. The thunder was ferocious and the lightening left purple-white afterimages burned onto your retinas. There was no in-between: it was either sulky and silent, or enraged and unhinged.
There was no swimming pool in this apartment complex. Like AC's, swimming pools on the east coast are generally found in rich people's yards or community centers. We had room for a pool to be constructed, but I would later learn that digging up the earth was not an option as our complex had been constructed atop an old landfill. We were literally living on rotting trash. Which explained why we found ourselves invaded that summer by roaches. And these weren't your garden variety cockroaches, easily squashed underfoot. These fucking things were the size of Cuban cigars and had wings. They were HUGE, malignantly glossy, and unafraid of humans. You'd go out into the kitchen in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, flick on the overhead light and they'd just freeze where they were: clinging to the walls, swarming on the counters, skating across the floor. They'd look at you, feelers twitching lazily and refusing to retreat. And you'd back away slowly, then run for the bathroom and do a mad dance in front of the mirror, making sure there were none clinging to you. It took months of battle and hundreds of dollars we didn't really have spent on roach motels, exterminators and bug spray to finally beat the goddamned little Sherman tanks back into the filth and shadows, and they eventually did retreat, but they never really 100% went away. Our cat wouldn't even try to catch/kill them; he'd flinch and back away, all 25 pounds of male Maine Coon of him. Can't say I blame him.
The was the first summer of No Escape, from the heat, the bugs, the thick, oppressive humidity. And you always hate what you cannot get away from and which will not leave you alone, be it men, laws, or weather. Pennsylvania made me hate summer, and I've not stopped hating it since.