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.

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