Ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

5 04 2009

Spring is here. Crap.

I have nothing against spring, save that it presages summer—and I don’t like summer.

Let me rephrase that: I hate summer.

Actually, many summer days are fine. Warm, sunny, blah blah. Inoffensive and manageable.

But then there are the days—and weeks—when weather turns vicious, the sun baleful and the air viscuous. I feel hunted by the sun and trapped by humidity, darting from one shadowed space to another, trying and always failing to avoid the heat rays from above.

Plus, I don’t like sticky.

And no, I don’t own an air conditioner, although every year I think, Hm, maybe this year. Now that I’m finally settled in to my own apartment, I think, Hm, maybe this year.

As much as I despair of the heat, I don’t like air conditioning. I appreciate AC, am grateful for it in the workplace, but I tend to think of it as wasteful for my home. And even though air conditioners today are much more energy efficient, and the units themselves fairly small, when I think of a box AC I think of the behemoths of old, rattling away as they suck electricity from the socket and money from my pocket.

When friends from the south would tell me they didn’t like indoor heat, I thought What?!!! How could you NOT like central heating? It’s what makes winter worthwhile: coming in from the cold, face chapped from the wind, and the reassuring hiss of the radiator letting me know I’m home.

I was less summer-phobic (and winter-philic) as a kid, but I like to remember a particular tradition from those winters: My parents’ house had forced-air heating, so in the mornings my sister and I would fight over who would fit her nightgown over the heat vents, the flannel billowing out with rush of warm air. Some mornings we’d rush my brother’s room and all three of us would crowd around his (more powerful) vent until the furnace had had enough.

And no, we did not have AC in the house.

Perhaps my southern friends had their own, fond, memories of coming in from the heat, faces red from the sun, and cooling themselves down in front of AC or vents. I remember comfort; they remember relief.

But as much as the weather can affect the temperature inside, it’s really an outdoors phenomenon. Crazy cold temps are tough to manage, but they are, in the end, manageable. Long underwear, heavy boots, heavy coats, scarves, hats, mittens—they’re the armor one wears to battle the cold, to move through the streets and one’s own life. (And winters in New York City rarely require heavy defense: a decent jacket, hat, and gloves will usually do. In fact, winters here are sufficiently mild that I kind of miss the intensity of the cold of Grad- and FelineCities, tho’ not its duration.)

How can one protect oneself against the heat? Sunglasses, sunscreen, but most hats will simply leave one sweatier than before. And while I can load up against the cold, there’s a limit to how far I can strip down. Naked in New York? No thank you.

I do like the sun. That’s why I hate the summer. In the fall, sun sneaks through the trees and leaves and dapples the ground; in the winter, it coaxes faces skyward, to catch a bit of warmth. But she turns mean in the summer, even sadistic. As much as I welcome her into my home during the other seasons, I avoid her June-August, cursing her relentlessness, her omnipresence.

Leave me alone! I have actually whimpered at the forecast of sunny summer days.

Trapped. Even if I do get AC this summer, saving myself from the oppression of humidity, I’ll still feel trapped, restricted to an oasis of cool.

Summer is my enemy. I dread its approach.