True confession time: I hate the heat. Like, a lot.
I’d much rather be too cold than too hot, any day of the week. First of all, I’m hot-blooded by nature. I never get truly cold unless I’m sick or it’s really freaking cold. I can go sleeveless, barefoot and in capris all the way up to winter, especially living here in California. (But I did it in Texas too.) My future daughter-in-law, on the other hand, takes a leather jacket everywhere she goes, even if it’s 90 degrees out. If we go to a mall or to a theater or a restaurant, they blast the shit out of the A/C, and she freezes like a Popsicle.
Meanwhile I’m trying to find ways to move in so I don’t have to go back outside EVER… because, you know, heat.
It makes me swelter just to look at her huddled up in her jacket, but I get it. Cold is every bit as uncomfortable as the heat, it’s just easier to manage. If you’re too cold, you can layer up to find some relief. If you’re too hot, layering down can get damned near indecent, and illegal… especially if you’re like me and shun long sleeves and layering of ANY sort to start with. I don’t wear cardigans or jackets. I hate long sleeves. I don’t wear hats or scarves. I barely want to wear any shoes that require socks.
When I start to layer down, I ain’t kiddin’ around.
And when you’re a fat person, fuggetaboutit. There are those who recoil to see your flabby flesh in stuff like tank tops and shorts, and they’ll try to guilt and shame into covering it up so it’s easier for other people to pretend you’re invisible. You know, like they’d like you to be.
To them I’d like to say: My physical comfort is every bit as important as your need for perfect visual aesthetics, so I’m gonna wear sleeveless stuff that shows off some skin, mmkay? I guarantee you that you’ll live through the experience with minimal damage, more minimal than me smacking you upside the head with the trench coat you’d rather I wear, but I ain’t gunna.
Because I am so hot-blooded, I freaking sweat like a whore in church whenever I get at all overheated, which makes me feel hotter and grosser than normal, adding emotional discomfort to the physical discomfort. Whether it’s grocery shopping, when I’m stuck in a crowd, on the beach, walking in the park, or even my ten-minute walks around the industrial complex where I work, I sweat. And I don’t just mean cute little sparkling droplets of dainty feminine perspiration. I mean big honky drops of sweat pouring off of my scalp and down my face to the point people stop me and ask me if I’m okay.
I pass girls on the walking path at the park and they’re wearing full makeup AND perfume, jogging past me in a sweetly scented breeze. Meanwhile I look like I’ve just walked through a car wash.
I melt in the heat. I always have. It’s one of the main reason I’m not that much of a cuddler. We can have sexy fun time, but at the end you need to be on your side of the bed and I’ll be on mine, or else I’ll freaking evaporate.
Needless to say, summer is not a fave exactly for this reason. I grew up in Texas, y’all, where it not only got hot but sticky, humid hot for days, weeks and months at a time. In the recent past I lived during a ridiculous heat wave in Texas where it reached over 100 degrees every single day for more than a month. Forty-six days, to be exact.
It was the kind of heat wave that made you want to drop an air-conditioning unit on top of people who want to deny climate change every time we experience a cold snap in the winter. And God, how I hated every miserable day of it. I moved from Texas that same year.
This was no coincidence.
When I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it was in the middle of August IN Texas. Also not a coincidence.
The only benefit to suffering this kind of heat when I was a kid was that I didn’t have to go to school in summer, because let’s face it. It’s hard as hell to people when you’re hot. Oppressive heat makes one cranky, hence why we define it as “oppressive.” It’s that relentless discomfort where nothing helps it get better, except maybe air conditioning, and if you don’t have that you’re soundly screwed, as is everyone around you. You’ll take your misery out on anyone who crosses your path, and it will likely be met with some crankiness on their end as well, because they’re every bit as miserable as you are.
Why do you think violent crime spikes in the heat?
If you’ve ever lived without air conditioning, and I have – many, many times – you know what it’s like to power through a humid, dark night, soaked in your own sweat, miserable and cranky, restless, angry and at the mercy of something much bigger than you, that’ll let you go when it damn well feels like it. Whether this takes hours, days or months – it’s completely out of your control for the most part.
If you know what it’s like to be completely naked and under a fan, and still feel like a hot, heavy blanket covers you, then you know what I’m talking about. If you have to function? Just the thought of adding clothes and walking outside your door becomes this Herculian effort, where you’d rather avoid doing even the things you love to do, because it feels like some obscene obstacle course. And everything you want is on the other side of it, so there’s nothing you can do about it but endure.
Thanks to a humid, heat wave across Southern California, where A/C in houses and apartments isn’t necessarily the norm thanks to a more temperate normal climate, it dawned on me a few days ago – or, more to the point, a sweaty, sleepless night or so ago – that this is very much like depression.
I should hope by now most people understand that depression isn’t a choice any more than enduring a hot day is a choice. Instead of something depending on the climate of where you happen to live, this instead depends on the climate of your brain, who you happen to be and how you’re wired on the inside. Most days are okay, but some just cook the life right out of you. These are not ideal circumstances, and you do your best to cope, but it is very much like trudging through mud, wearing a fifty-pound backpack, trying to get to the other side of… , well anything.
I’m sure most of us have had that kind of sucky day where we’ve put some of our more challenging or difficult tasks off till another, more comfortable time, simply because the conditions weren’t ideal. We know ourselves well at this point, and we know that if we have to do Project X while we’re steeped in murky, humid depression, we’ll just melt entirely – no matter how happy and positive you try to be about the situation.
And these difficult tasks wouldn’t normally be so difficult, but conditions outside our control render them just a tad beyond our endurance on some days.
Think of depression like mental humidity with zero air conditioning. You literally feel heavier. You are uncomfortable and out of sorts. The things that normally don’t bother you are suddenly unbearable when added onto the pile of bullshit you’re suddenly carrying around. Each and every feather feels like a ten pound rock when added to the backpack. And, much like a fat person wearing minimal clothing on a hot day, just to find a little relief, the world around you will judge you for how you cope. It’s your choice how to handle things, and believe me – no matter what you choose – you’ve chosen wrong.
And the Liar that lives inside your head will make damned sure you hear each and every criticism, so no matter what you choose to do to get over the hump, you feel weaker and stupider for having chosen it.
“Yeah. Why CAN’T I just move to a cooler climate? Oh right, I don’t have the money to uproot my life or the lives of my family. Because I’m such a loser. Where’s my ten-pound feather??”
Because your mood is already soured, all the negative stuff rises to the top of your attention span. Every ache will be amplified. Every criticism will boom like a megaphone in your ears. You can either trudge on in sadistic slow motion OR you can check out for a day or two, alone, doing all the little cheats and tricks you’ve learned to endure. Just like running for ice cream on a hot day, not all of those cheats and tricks are the healthiest choice… but they get you through. And that is quite often enough.
Either way, it comes down to the same thing… you have to endure it. You have to get to the other side. Spring is behind you but fall is ahead of you. You know you’ll be better… eventually.
You just have to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly.
Meanwhile you pray that a friend will bring you a fan and some ice cream. One who will set as naked with you as you dare to sit with them, and they’ll love you anyway, and you won’t feel so alone as you try to get through another hot and humid night. You can toss off the sheets that feel like lava on your skin, just to get one cool breeze, and no one will criticize you for sleeping bare-assed naked under an open window, because they can empathize how far you’ll go to get a little comfort.
And maybe, just maybe, it will rain, and you’ll learn how to once again dance under the refreshing drops, feeling renewed for another hot day ahead. Because you know that even if this heat wave ends, summer comes every single year without fail. All you can do is waiting patiently for fall and “sweater weather” and chilly nights in front of a roaring fire to make the rest worth it.
You know, the good times.
Until then, you endure… because that’s what hot days are for.
Though I’ve spent the last many months fighting off depression, I see relief ahead. Unfortunately my emotional summer lasted throughout winter and spring, my favorite times of the year, and it sucked. HARD.
Now that I’m enduring another atypical heat wave, living in a place with no air conditioning, at nearly 90 degrees out and almost 50% humidity consistently for days, it just seemed like the ideal time to talk about the glaring similarities. You know, so I could distract myself while I melted.
And if it’s hot where you are, then maybe you’ll understand it a little better if you currently didn’t. Having discomfort outside your control sucks. Hard.
We’ll make it through but… hot damn. Literally. Is it fall yet?? #bringicecreamSTAT