The Great Sizzle

Our apartment’s one hour of direct sunlight creeps in, starting at 7 a.m. when my alarm goes off for the first time. Through successive snoozes,  the heat coming through the blinds prickles on my skin; heat building up where the sheet is tangled around my pajama’d torso. Miyagi rolls away from me, sits up, paws at my face. He needs to be let down from the too-high bed to drink from his water dish. He has stretched his legs out as far from his spindly little body as possible to create maximum surface area, and begins panting in my ear. The noise forces me up, I deposit him on the floor and re-sprawl at the foot of the bed in a last-ditch attempt to avoid the burning sunlight. But it has been advancing fast during my fits of sleep, and it is too late to escape. The heat has arrived.After June and July of relentless precipitation, summer has descended on the city. I’d almost forgotten about it. Sweltering walks on the pavement, punctuated by arctic blasts of air conditioning coming from store vestibules. The students at work, experiencing their first urban summer, are shocked and abashed. They cannot believe this is normal and not some apocalyptic heat wave. I feel them quietly praying under their breath. But how were they to know, when they signed on to move here? No episode of Friends ever featured Monica and Rachel dealing with the climatic extremes the city throws at you. Carrie, Samantha and the gang were never pictured as wilted and defeated as everyone in Manhattan looks today. When you replace all your green space with pavement, you got to be able to deal with the haze. And you thought you were living “up North.”

Just 6 months ago I was waking up in this same bed, same apartment, clothed for sleep in long johns, fleece pants, a thermal top and a hoodie, swaddled in 6 blankets and sleeping bag. Now we flee the house as soon as the sun comes up, cursing our building’s ancient wiring for not being able to support an AC unit without some creative and complicated extension cord work. And summer movies are all crap,* but you sit through them anyway because it’s cheaper than anything else you can do in this town for 2 and a half hours. Sunday afternoon we contemplate taking a book and riding the subway all day.

Being the secret masochist I am, I kinda love it.

*Except  District 9.

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