Hot and Cold
I think most, if not all New Yorkers would agree, that winter in the city is a frosted version of hell. Whether it be the snow piled high enough to drown a teenager, or the cutting wind that chaps the necks of unsuspecting tourists, the Big Apple doesn’t seem so delectable when seen through the filter of a cold grayscale.
But the silver lining is that no matter how cold it gets, we can always retreat to our overpriced matchbox heavens we call apartments, crank up the heat, turn on the stove, snuggle under blankets and have a romantic bowl of soup with a taxi cab serenade until sweet summer graces us with its presence once more.
But then summer actually comes. And it’s hell, heated up. During the months of June, July, and especially August, New York City pavement becomes cayenne laden skillets, fricasseeing us all. And what’s worse is that the average apartment here does not come furnished with air conditioning.
So here I am, sitting here, moving my sticky fingers across the keyboard of my laptop, cursing. First cursing myself for being too lazy to buy some sort of a/c unit that would ultimately change this frown to a smile; then cursing my landlady, who when refurbishing this hell-hole, put bars on all the windows, leaving no place for a window unit and solidifying my look of disgust and this feeling of discomfort. Thank you landlady. You shouldn’t have.
So I bought fans and set them all up in a row. With the square industrial at the front, the circular floor fan at the back, and a few oscillators in between, I sat directly in front of the fan parade, totally stripped of all cloth, and pretended the roar created by the propellers was a resounding applause from my “fans” who were happy I was happy, and happy I was naked. Maybe that was an early sign of heat stroke.
But after twenty minutes, I sat sunken into a soggy couch, wishing I could take my skin off, afraid it was suffocating my bones. Wishing I could take the fans back because they weren’t worth the utility money. Especially since even with the fans, I was a degree shy of dead. It’s just like “fans” in New York to get you right where they want you, then, when you least expect it, turn on you!
But it isn’t the fans’ fault. Apparently, when the landlady was installing the security bars, and forgetting to leave space for the a/c unit, she was also forgetting to put screens in the windows. Therefore, in order to get any sort of breeze circulating through my smoldering apartment, I would have to allow it to blow in every bug and bird the concrete jungle has to offer. Not to mention the stray cats. The landlady’s a genius. Really. Or maybe I am, for not looking over the apartment more thoroughly before signing the lease. But to my defense, it was fall.
So basically, I’m screwed. And hot. I pay too much for rent to sleep anywhere outside of this matchbox, even though it seems every match has been lit with me inside. It’s like my apartment has become a Bikram’s yoga studio, in the pit of hell. And I’m trapped here, sitting in the dark, holding my body in a contorted position, sweat gathering in all orifices, breathing a breathe per minute, meditating on the coming nirvana of nighttime, and my relief into cool.
And then it finally comes. Dusk. You never realize how long the day is until you actually sit and wait for night. When the moon starts to make its entrance, I find refuge outside on the stoop. It’s not unusual to see most of my neighbors out there as well, sitting on their stoops, drinking cold beers toasting to soon-to-be darkness. We all know why we are out there. It’s unspoken, but we all know. We’re waiting for the Ice Cream truck.
See, in Brooklyn it comes several times during the day, including at night. I’m not sure why. Maybe because the guy who drives it knows there are some of us who, like myself, are paralyzed by the heat of daylight. Or maybe he knows Brooklyn kids don’t ever go inside and always want ice cream. Either way, I’m thankful and anxious to see him.
We all sit on our stoops waiting to hear that chime, so we can run like children and meet the man who will give us Rocket Pops, or ICEEs, or Ice Cream Sandwiches. The day has humbled us. Today, we don’t want anymore summer. We miss the cold weather. We miss the snow, and the chapping breeze. As a matter of fact, it all sounds fantastic right now. And though we talk bad about it when it’s here, we ironically find ourselves stricken with summer sickness, waiting half the night, to buy a slice of winter, for two dollars.