The tangible, abstract heat of it all


The idea hits. It will be great. I can start here, I think, then while it’s starting to simmer…  ~poof~ …it’s gone. Just like that. It was a good idea, one that just had to be. Or so I thought. Then again, thinking is a relative concept; one far more abstract than tangible. No shit.

Climate control. No, not global warming and all that. (I boil when someone says, in the dead of winter during a particularly frosty freeze, “How can there be ‘global warming’ when it is this cold” in all indignation and disgust. “Oh, you dope,” I think to myself.) Climate control is this canned air. The non-stop buzz of the air conditioning, pumping out recycled, dead air into the confined space of these four walls. As dead as it may be, it’s a cool, comfortable 74 degrees. It’s cool, comfortable and safe.


“Because it’s cold, the water in the air collects there and forms drops.”


“Because the water in the tank is cold, it makes the outside of it colder than the air.”


“I don’t know. It’s called con-den-sa-tion.”

“Conden-sation. Con-den-sa-tion. Condensation. Why?”

By then, I realized that the little lesson was over, my two-year-old son was spitting out “Why?” like I would spit out “Yep.” It signaled thinking, in its own irritating way. Yep, there it is. The heat and the cold, and the humidity to go along with it.

Here it is, 23 years later, and here’s heat and humidity, but no cold. There’s no cool, even. The coolest thing is the canned air, recycled and dead, pumped in for comfort. Turn on the cold water tap and what hits the skin, flowing over the webbing between the fingers is water the temperature of a hot bath gone stale. That water starts at a river, winds its way through pipes and a water treatment plant, then through more pipes all chlorinated and clean before shooting out of the spout in the kitchen sink. Most of that trip is underground, safe from the glaring sun and overheated outside. It’s supposed to be cold, not luke warm.

Eyes squint, nose hairs curl, lungs clench. It’s like opening the oven, time to baste the Thanksgiving turkey, slammed with the delectable aroma and baking heat. Upper lip stings, cheeks tingle, arms sear. This time, it hits from head to toe while opening the front door. From cool, comfortable canned air and into global warming extraordinaire.

Thinking becomes “uh oh,” and quiets down to an instinctual hum. It’s bad, oh so bad, so incredibly hot. Then, thinking it can’t get worse, it does when the car door is opened to release the broiling heat trapped inside. Condensation works its wonders as eye glasses fog over, making it somehow unbearable to be looking through that thick film of moisture. Face is wet, arms slimy with dew, hair channeling rivulets to drip, drip, drip. Get there. Get there quick.

Heat. The thermostat is stuck. Temps rage in the 100’s daily, with heat indexes to rival Hell-in-a-handbasket. Heat is abstract, yet far more tangible than the brain’s ability to think in such adverse conditions. It rained yesterday. You can’t tell. Neither can the browned grass or the wilting trees. Wilting trees, for heaven’s sake. The tree leaves are green, but withered and drooping.

It takes effort. The effort is straining, draining what’s left of synaptical connectivity. A thought begins only to fade in its attempt to complete. Even the canned, cool air is no respite. The relief is only temporary. You feel it’s tenuous ability to continue, dependent on a power grid that may or may not continue to crank out the power to run the air conditioning constantly.

It’s a strain. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. In this heat, thinking is relative. I’m thinking that thinking will return some time in October or so.

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