17 July 2013

Without A/C

You know how good the food tastes at a wedding reception when you're the last table to be served? After sitting through the ceremony, the long line to hug the bride and groom, the drive to the reception hall, the grand entrance of every. single. member. of the wedding party, then the bride and groom, then the toasts. By the time the servers hit the wedding party's table, you're practically ready to shout, "I DON'T CARE IF THE FISH IS RAW, I NEED FOOD." But you sit. And wait. For all 20 (30?)-some tables to be served and it's finally your turn. And even though the portions are tiny, the beef is overcooked and the cake tastes like gummy plastic, you scarf it down like a little kid in grandma's candy cupboard. The food tastes good because you had to wait, to "suffer," in a sense.



The same is true with the summer. Summer-fun-things are so much more enjoyable, and I feel so much more connected with nature and history without a/c.

My apartment was built by rich folk before before a/c was invented - with high ceilings, wood floors, and 16 windows. When we add a few fans and keep the lights and stove off, summer is downright enjoyable around here! Hot, but manageable. So we didn't buy or rent a window a/c unit, we're just learning how to deal and how to enjoy.


The beach is amazing when you've just spent the entire night sweating and the entire morning packing. The breeze coming off the lake and the cold great lakes waters feel a-maz-ing when you're drenched in sweat. Back in the days when I had a/c, I'd be doing something outside and think to myself, "It's so hot, I should totally go swimming!" But by the time I got inside, changed, and put on sunscreen, I was actually cold. Matt and I would joke that we'd need to go sit outside and get hot again before going swimming! Ice cream for lunch is so much more delicious when it actually does cool you off. Ice water only lasts a few sips before it becomes luke warm, which makes those first few sips incredible every. single. time. At the end of the day, my skin smells like salt (from sweating - the water around here is of the fresh variety) and sun and water. Like summer. My hair has that kind of frizzy volume you only get after a day of sweat and lake water and sun screen. It's reminds me of summer as a kid, when it was the greatest event of the year behind Christmas.


But when these heat waves hit - with the heat index we're brushing 100, hot, humid degrees - we do start to feel the pain. We start making twice-daily trips to the beach (thankfully it's within walking distance), finding excuses to go to the store 2-3 times a week, sticking our heads in the freezer. But the more intense heat makes me feel more in touch with nature. The breeze, the sun, the air. It all impacts me so much more than when I had a/c. And I ponder what life must have been like for earlier residents of Chicago. When people had summer kitchens and sleeping porches. I get, now, why the rich had summer homes by the water. It's kickass in the way that going on vacation and giving up your cell phone and Facebook are. You feel amazing, centered, freed, like you finally got your priorities right. You wish you could live that way forever, but you know you can't.

It's like that scene in The Notebook when Allie's mom takes her to see the man she once loved.

What are we doing here, Mama?
Do you see that man, there?
Mm-hmm.
Doesn't look like it now, but 25 years ago...oh my goodness, he was really something. We were out of our minds in love, let me tell you. Wow. Well, naturally, your grandfather was furious, so...we decided to run away. We didn't even make the next town before the police picked us up. But that was then. You know sometimes when I'm in the area, I just stop here and I watch him, trying to picture how different my life might have been...

That's like me and this a/c-free, Chicago life. One day we'll come back to visit and I'll wonder what life would have been like if we'd gone down this different road.

To put it more humorously, there is this bit in Good Will Hunting where Will is arguing with Skylar and he says to her: "I mean you just wanna have your fling with like the guy from the other side of town. Then you're going to go off to Stanford, you're going to marry some rich prick who your parents will approve of and just sit around with the other trust fund babies and talk about how you went slumming too, once."

We're slumming. In the heat. With our swim suits on.








Whatever. I'm blabbering - the heat must be getting to me. 9 days to go.


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