Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer in the City

One question I've gotten a lot about our move is: "Is it a lot hotter in the summer in Kentucky?"

This question always makes me laugh. Laugh laugh laugh. Laugh, and, of course, remember.

I remember when I first moved up here, 12 years ago, a fresh-faced, naive, idealistic college girl. It was June, and I very sweetly assumed that New York, that Yankee state, would have a nice mild summer. Summers in Kentucky tend to be in the '90's and muggy, so I was excited for a change of pace.

Of course, I was rudely awakened when I debarked my plane and found that New York is just as hot, just as sticky as Kentucky, but has added bonuses like pollution so thick that your sweat becomes black and piles of garbage that smell like death when warmed by the sun.

I remember staying in that flea-bag hotel, the one where I first experienced bedbugs, which, of course, had no A/C. (That hotel has now been transformed into a "boutique" hotel, which makes me want to vomit.) I tossed and turned in my questionable sheets, rinsed off my sweat in the coed, rapist's dream of a shower, then tried to look presentable for my $250/week job at the Ubu Repertory Theater. I'd pass a vendor as I exited the subway selling ice-cold Coca-Colas, which I could never resist.

I remember sweating constantly, even at work, which only had window unit A/C's (and not every room had one). I remember how grouchy everyone was on the street, because they were in the same boat.

Soon, I moved into my Newark, NJ apartment, which had the best and most reliable A/C of any apartment I've lived in since. True, it's also the only apartment where I frequently heard gunshots, but I was cool at night, damn it!

The next year I moved into the safety of Brooklyn, but could not afford an air conditioner with my checking account, which often read $24.15. Or much, much less. I remember going to the ATM and feeling like it was judging me for taking any money out at all.

My parents offered to buy me one, but I refused on principle. I took cold showers each night, jumping into my bed completely naked, all the windows open, hoping to pass out before I heated back up. I kid you not - the water would evaporate and I'd be sweating before I even hit the sheets. I even took a bath WITH ICE CUBES IN IT, not once, but several times. It still didn't help.

At least at this point I'd moved to a job that was air conditioned, so I had work to look forward to. I also had many friends who took mercy on me and hosted sleepovers on the hottest nights, but still. What a crap year.

Then there's waiting for a subway below ground, where the heat gets trapped. Or worse, finding that every train is overly crowded except one - one that turns out not to be air conditioned.

There are the bodegas that brag about "ICE COLD DRINKS" but then you find their fridge is broken. There are restaurants that only have weak little window units, so they're no relief. And of course you have the free, public pools, but they are filled to capacity with other foul-tempered, sweating people and you have to deal with the Parks Department bullyish employees to get there.

And always, of course, the threat of a blackout.

Anyway, yes, Kentucky is hot in the summer. But the air conditioners work there and you have more trees to absorb the heat.

And at least people pretend to be nice, even if they call you names as you walk away from them.

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