Wednesday, July 27, 2011

112 Main Street

The summer that 22 people died from heat exhaustion on the east coast before August 1st, was the same year I drove 450 miles to say goodbye to a person I barely knew.

As the sweat pooled around the back of my knees I couldn't get the tiny yellow-shingled apartment out of my head. The heat index reached 115 before noon; all I could remember was the month we spent with no air conditioning, sitting on the roof watching the pavement sizzle. The fans blew hot air against our faces and your bangs stuck to your forehead.

Everywhere the heat was making people crazy. Not the put a leash on your cat and take her for a run crazy; the getting married and buying homes with central air crazy. Couples started trading in their vacation homes for summer camps and family reunions, claiming that now was the time to start appreciating one another.

The 11 o'clock news reported on drowning victims swallowing salt water to stay hydrated- fathers openly wept on camera. These images should have broken our hearts, but the heat barreled down so hard that no one could feel anything. We walked around numb.

That's around the time people started saying “I love you” when they actually meant “get away from me”. None of us wanted to be alone if this was the end, because holding a strangers hand is better than reaching out to empty space. At least that's what the statistics proved; the new baby boom would hit that coming spring. Articles were written questioning if the new Summer of Love was upon us- Could it be- had the heat saved humanity?

When I made it to your parents’ house I was greeted by the same light house that welcomed me some 5 years before. It stood creating a shadow on the lake, cooling off the sand just enough to make it bearable for visitors and a little too cool and crowded for the locals. The beach below was littered with bodies and empty towels, sitting on the pier all I could feel was sweat as I watched the people sizzle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Star Spangled

By Monday afternoon it's actually the Fourth of July but we all seem a little less patriotic and a little more burned out. What’s left of the sparklers have all drowned in the pool and they look meek; now water damaged, the level of danger has escaped them.

We’re all craving sleep and salads, and mango tea with antioxidants to help our bodies detoxify. I’m begging for a couch with a recliner built in, but all I can find is a bench swing so I’m texting you telling you I miss you. I mean to say I miss your comforter and pillows but I know you are part of the package. You don't notice the difference in my tone, or if you do, you choose not to acknowledge it. I continue to complain, you continue to ignore.

To a stranger, this looks more like a battlefield than a backyard. Six of us are sprawled out on towels across the patio with a handful of empty beer cans cradling our red bodies. We’re not sun kissed or sun tanned yet, but here’s to hoping we all agree. Anyone in the grass is risking lying in vomit - we keep saying vomit and laughing like it’s both the best and funniest thing we’ve ever heard. Some of actually do vomit during the conversation.

With my head against the concrete I'm thinking about how I could be happy with less: less work, less scheduling, less time spent trying to find a moment to breathe and actually just breathing. Thinking all of this is making dizzy or the lack of alcohol is making me dizzy or the clouds going too fast for my eyes is making dizzy.

I start to remember the details; they are hazy but there: you walking up the driveway in a bright yellow t-shirt the first day we met- me in black pants and a white flowery button up shirt with a white belt sitting above my waist. I had on black wedges too, but they flew off my feet into the bushes while you spun me around. Your smile was something that people have called infectious.

I can't find my shoes when I finally leave the party, but I'm also not convinced I had any shoes to begin with. (You’ll say that I argued the same point with you in the past and that I lose a lot of shoes. I admit to nothing.) There's a dog barking down the street and I take the East Street route home to make sure it’s okay. After a few blocks, I get tired and sit on the curb and watch the heat rise off the pavement.