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
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