Days have been long lately.
The weather is volatile– the sky’s the pent-up energy and rage blackens bright summer mornings and spits angry showers onto sticky sidewalks. We become a people of preparation, carrying sunglasses alongside our umbrellas, flip flops wrapped in raincoats and stuffed into backpacks.
Evenings we blast the A/C, attempting to cut through the moist air that hangs damp and still throughout our three rooms. The apartment has been sitting, shut up tight all day long, and the air seems to fester and sweat like we do on the sidewalks. We haven’t topped 85 degrees in a week or so, but the air is still pregnant with moisture, and even in the mildest temperatures, feels thick and unbearable.
It feels as though my body has sucked that moisture right out of the air, swelling my fingers and stomach and arms. I feel bloated and full, and whatever my body has absorbed sits, just like the air in my apartment, heavy and full and completely stagnant. I stumble through my days, out of bed covered in sweat, alternating between blasting my wet hair with the hot air from the dryer and standing, arms out, in front of the air conditioner. I while away the dark hours, when the sky clouds up, in the office alone, waiting for my boss to arrive. He often doesn’t. I stagnate with the air, sitting invisibly behind the desk, dimly lit by the lamp and the computer screen. Event to event, many events lately, hair sticking to the back of my neck, face shining with the pinpricks of sweat at my temples. Self-consciously flipping it from side to side, lifting it restlessly from my shoulder and shaking it, as if to somehow get the air around me moving. The nervous wipe under the eyes, persistently, if not successfully, attempting to staunch my eyeliner’s endless pull from its place on my lids to the caverns under my eyes.
The thickness of the air seems to separate us, somehow, as though we’re all moving on our own lily pads in the great swamp of the city, bumping each other perhaps, but not overlapping. It seems to take hours for a sentence to pass from someone’s lips to my ear, and another eternity to be processed by my brain. Everything appears warped, like wood panels left out in the rain. Sound, sights, thoughts– all bend their way from place to place, never quite arriving at their destination fully formed. Nothing feels sharp.
I long for that sharpness, in a way. The sharpness of hunger, perhaps. Also the sharpness of the burn in my ears and nose and fingers when I stumble into my apartment from the snow-whipped streets of the city. Clarity.
Summer, for me, inherently lacks sharpness. I plod. My mouth hangs lazily open and touch feels heavy and unwanted. I imagine scraping myself, inside and out, of the heavy air that inflates every cell. I slough it off with the metal scraper my mother had in her kitchen, which we used for Play-Doh creations. I finish off with a rough scrup from a loofah, dry and slightly painful. I radiate, red with irritation, but feeling present and alive. The fantasy ends when I inevitably imagine myself filling back up, skin and organs and fluids regenerating, sucking the water that hangs plentifully in the summer air.
So I plod on, sunny mornings through stormy afternoons through muggy nights. I continue to bloat, full of moisture and hot, wet air. I keep moving, and I hope that eventually I’ll pick up enough speed to blast through, cold and sharp, like the air from the city pumped through our old A/C, reappearing in the kitchen with fresh, clean life.
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