The heat makes me shiver - I don’t mind being a freak for this.  I'll sit in a sweltering car with the windows up and my eyes closed.  This heat makes me shiver - gives me goosebumps.  I can't explain it.

I have this strange love for humidity and heat. When I was a kid (I say "kid" and I actually mean from the ages 13 to 22) I learned to love the feeling of heat- especially when it was thick or sticky - heavy with moisture. I love to feel air that it is stuffy and oppressive - I don't mind being a freak for this. There was always something almost sensual about breathing hot air and feeling as if something pressed on your chest -  to make it difficult to pull in oxygen.  I'm thinking out loud right now.

When I was 13 we moved to a house with an indoor pool. It wasn’t one of those super fancy ones with white walls, tiled floors, and air conditioning. It was a simple in-ground pool with a concrete deck, a shelter built around it with an opaque, fiberglass roof that leaked when it rained. The back of our house faced the pool and one could stand at any window along the back of the house and watch people swim.  From inside one could hear every whispered word spoken and when it rained the din from the uninsulated roof was deafening.

Our house always smelled like moisture and chlorine- even in the winter- the house was saturated with the odor.

I associate the smell of chlorine with that house and probably will for the rest of my life. The memory of that place comes back to me at the oddest times, walking in a hardware store; greenhouses; Bart’s parent’s house; the YMCA; even a Wal-Mart’s pool supply department. It’s always strange because the house doesn’t even exist anymore but that one odor brings it back with such amazing clarity it scares me.

Is the past so far gone?  Sometimes I can still hear the water dripping into the pool from the ceiling.  Does that place exist somewhere that one day I can visit it?  Is it whole in that place or the blackened, charred ruin that it became?

Around the pool on three sides were rows of sliding glass doors, 18 total, and they let in enough sunlight to turn the entire room into a greenhouse.  The space between the water in the pool and the windows was a jellied heat that enveloped. I would lie on the diving board and just sweat -  90 degrees outside meant 120 plus inside and it was amazing - goosebumps. A lover.

My mother would come storming out and yell at me: 

"Get out of that heat!" and "stop closing all of the sliding doors!"  She would stalk around the room as I looked up from my dreamy haze.  “Let some air in, you’re going to die in this heat.” She’d roll open door after door, letting the breeze blow through the room - cold on wet skin. 

It was exquisite

You must have some kind of brain damage from it already.” she'd shake her head and retreat into the house as I recovered.

I would skip school in late May/early June and lay in the sun behind those windows. One time I ended up so sunburned I could hardly breathe without skimming shivers of pain across my back and the creases of my arms. I never even realized my burn until it was far too late - I was shivering.  The heat suffocated my skin. I baked…. Basked in it all for hours as lines of sweat dripped down my eyes and the backs of my legs -  my exposed skin dotted with goosebumps the whole time.

I never regretted the burns for an instant- even when I itched or peeled the dark browned skin from my shoulders and arms.

That place doesn't exist anymore- even to drive by- as it burned down eleven years ago this August.  We built a new house and the pool is now completely exposed.  Now I can only sit in my tiny sunroom with the windows closed and imagine for a little while that I'm there again.  I'm too old to skip school- I don't have to- but it still gives me goosebumps.

Goosebumps (or goose bumps) is the common name given to the archaic reflex response known as Piloerection. This reflex is a throwback to a time when our hairy progenitors warmed themselves by activating tiny muscles in the skin, called arrector pili. These muscles tugged on hair follicles, puckering up the skin around those follicles and fluffing up the fur so that warm air got trapped near the skin.

Piloerection also occurs during intense fear; this puffed up your ancestors' hair to make them look larger and more fierce.


According to melknia, piloerection also occurs when some rodents—like rats, mice and bunnies—are ill.

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