Wasn’t it just last week I was lamenting over the lush greenery of spring? The April showers which bring May flowers, the growth, the bursting forth of the world from its winter slumber? What the hell happened between then and now? Suddenly, it’s summer. Suddenly, I can’t go outside without being blinded and starting to sweat. Suddenly, the leaves that were lush and green are starting to crisp around the edges.
Oh, I’m exaggerating, I know. It’s not that bad. You can’t fry an egg on the sidewalk (yet). And it’ll probably cool down and break in the next week or so, go back to the mid-60s or whatever the somewhat tolerable temperature settles into for this New York City summer.
It’s been getting better, really. I arrived in New York nearly five years ago, this is my fifth summer, and my coping mechanisms are much improved. I have already installed the two air conditioners into windows in my apartment, and the ceiling fan in my bedroom is on, probably not to be turned off until October. I scurry from place to air-conditioned place when running errands, I keep the lights off and the blinds closed, I keep the temperature down.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the heat, I’ll admit. I don’t want to complain all the time, but when conditions just aren’t working, it’s hard not to. Blisters from the new sandals I haven’t had to break in until now, stretched-out tee shirts from walking in the sun all day, my skin feeling gross from the humidity and noxious particles in the air from this giant city get to me easily when the temperature tips above eighty. I feel sticky, sweaty, parched, blinded, headachey from the heat.
But really, if I stop for a minute, the problem isn’t the clothes or my skin or any of those things. The real problem is sex.
Because, as high as my libido runs, I can’t stand it when the temperature of my body rivals the air. All I can do is spread out as wide as possible, sometimes with multiple ice packs on the insides of my elbows to lower the boiling heat of my bloodstream, sucking on ice cubes. I feel like I’ve melted into a puddle.
And that is not sexy.
Plus, while it is lovely and amazing for girls to wear rompers and short jean skirts and tank tops and strapless sundresses, summer fashion is a little harder on the guys. Madras shorts, maybe; white polos, sure. Sandals ... well, if you can pull it off. Otherwise, it’s Oxfords and Chucks with no socks. But even that is not the same as the nearly naked outfits that allow cool breezes to caress all inches of skin.
I just do not feel comfortable in short shorts, call it gender identity or fashion or body image: it is just not me.
Keeping the temperature down in my apartment helps. When there is enough of a chill in the air that I can snuggle under the covers, take my lover in my arms and wrap myself around her, I can get it up. When the summer sun streams through the windows in the morning, I can stumble over to the windows to shut the blinds and fall back into shadows and outlines for a few more minutes as we kiss and giggle ourselves awake to greet the day. Never mind New York City out there, urging instant uprightness, urging us out of bed, urging a fierce focus with tight sunbeams burning through delicate leaves and flower petals. Leave us alone, I want to growl. Go bother the folks in Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, Austin. Don’t you have somewhere better to be? And aren’t we in the North, here?
It doesn’t work that way. New York wants what she wants, and won’t compromise. New York doesn’t do anything half-assed or carelessly, including summer weather. New York must be the biggest, hottest, burning brightest of all. If you aren’t paying enough attention to her, she'll let you know.
I wonder if there’s a way to channel this heat, this intense burning, into lighting the fire of my desire inside of me instead of letting it burn hotter and overwhelm. I wonder if I can commit myself to maintaining the lushness of spring throughout the heat waves and sweltering subways, throughout the trips of running errands that consist of multiple stops to coffee shops just so sit and cool my skin for three minutes.
This summer, I won’t complain about the blisters from my sandals and the sweat on my temples. I’m not sure I can stop myself from having those things occur, but I can stop myself from complaining. I won’t whine and bitch and moan about the weather. It’s just the stupid weather, after all. Any time I think, Ugh, I cannot stand one more day of this heat, I will catch myself, flip it, and attempt to let the heat encourage something inside of me, the place that gets lit up by wanting and desire and short skirts and strappy sandals. The place that can see sweaty bodies writhing together as delicious, sensual, not overwhelming or too visceral.
This summer, I’ll redirect the heat to keep the desire up and strong and budding, just like spring, just like the dead of winter when my only heat is another’s body. I’ll use the blinding white of the sun, high in the sky at noon, to drop down through the line of my spine and into my pelvis, catch it in the bowl there, and watch it light up my body from the inside, keeping a deep fire burning, at least until the fall, when it begins to burn out.