I miss the heat waves of summertime on the East coast, the land of collard greens and barbecues and summers so hot you’d melt.
I live in the West now, where summer has only just woken up and rubbed its eyes in, realizing that it overslept and it’s time to get the heat on. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here but it’s summer that has me nostalgic. It’s ironic, in that bittersweet way – I was so keen to get away from those hot, hot summers and now I miss them so much I can close my eyes and think of them with no small amount of gratitude.
I remember the heat rising off the pavement in waves you could almost touch. I remember the screen doors slamming shut. I remember the sound they made closing, a kind of metallic clash that reverberated when the door wouldn’t shut properly because they never did. The feel of feet brushing along on the hot pavement, where you’d step with the top of your feet and then rub your feet along in the grass, the cool to the heat.
If you had to go somewhere you edged carefully onto the seat as it was so hot. If you were unlucky and had no air conditioning then chances are you’d left the windows open “to let the heat out”, you’d say, as though it had option for escaping. You’d make sure you’d park under a tree when you got to where you were going, just so you could get some shade on the steering wheel, the dash, the seat.
I remember sun tea jars on porches, the Lipton squares dangling from the top like a veil. Later in the day it would be lemonade in a glass with sweat droplets that you’d hold to your face, your neck, your chin and would simultaneously shiver from and love any errant drops that fell onto your chest. Crickets would be singing the evening away, their legs possibly the only motion that anyone could bear. The air would be full of bits and pieces of dandelion, dust, and sunlight that you couldn’t shake off. Walk inside and the house would be so dark, your eyes too adjusted to the sun. The day felt like the inside of a Van Morrison song and sometimes you were aware of every single pore of your body opened up in the light.
Children would be outside with various stages of dried Popsicle and sticky Kool-Aid. If you had a porch swing you’d sit back into it, using your toes to move the swing backwards and forwards. I remember lazy blades from the ceiling fan, the smell of a barbecue or – if you were lucky – a good corn boil all afternoon and into the evening. The evenings were made for lightning bugs if you could still find them, dozily making their way around the yard. There would be baseball on someone’s TV, the sounds of a Molsen commercial on else’s. At night you’d sleep with just a sheet covering you because if you were like me, you couldn’t sleep without some kind of cover, and you’d lie still under the blanket of heat and enjoy the movement the fans made in the air.