For over two weeks now the majority of my experience of the world has taken place looking out the living room window. I’m not the only one, I know, hibernating indoors, avoiding fifteen days of over ninety degrees and heat indices in the hundreds. Even from the window this neighborhood seems to be holing up, hiding out where it’s cool, shades drawn.
Across the street the young couple - earlier this month they hung Buddhist prayer flags, planted daylilies, and carried home a high backed wooden bench which they struggled up to the porch – the ones who spent mornings on the porch with coffee and cigarettes, evenings on that bench too – they’re inside now too. The squirrels seem lethargic, while the cars move down the street, faster, it seems in the heat – particularly those with windows down, with no working air inside.
Although a nearly continual breeze tricks me into hoping for air that may refresh, sets the prayer flags waving merrily; when I succumb to that hope all it takes is opening my front door to dash it against the furnace of sticky concrete. Outside the air smells like room temperature mayonnaise, left on the counter after the sandwich is made.
After fifteen days of it my body still won’t adjust – probably because I only go out when I must, when I’ve promised to be somewhere. Yet the body isn’t interested in becoming regulated to life in a sauna, because this body sweats. Not one of the healthy, good workout sweats either, the kind that lets you know you’re doing yourself some good. Even getting in a short walk in the relatively cooler morning hours results in coming home drenched, so slick the doorknob won’t turn in my hand, unable to see for the salt pouring down into my eyes. It’s just too tiring, too trifling a reward for the effort.
Looking out the window will suffice. As will focusing on what I can do indoors. Some good has come of it after all: the apartment cleaned, de-cobwebbed, a first-rate start on a short story made, working my way through the journals of the past few years to see what I’ve learned and what I’m still working on, making space on the bookshelves, and writing a series of articles on working with dreams.
Mostly this time has been an exercise for my psyche and spirit – a practice in sitting, accepting that sitting has value to me, time to hold awareness of my tendencies to self-punishment, following my relish for reading and films into the creative places they take me. The most surprising gift though has been locating in myself something I’ve never had - faith. Not faith in a religious or even a practical, plan-filled sense – but finding faith that, just as, eventually cooler weather will arrive, so too does acceptance of who and how and what I am seem to be showing up.
How interesting I find it to discover that I can rant about the weather, among other things, and not see myself as a whiny bitch. I get to know and act on my body’s inability to deal with wet heat and not find it weak and lazy. To understand that it isn’t just about escaping into fantasy when I read and watch movies, but a creative jumpstart for my own writing is part of that faith. To know that I am a woman approaching sixty, still learning, becoming ever more her own creation, and even more comfortable with herself – that’s a faith I never thought to have.
Not bad for this summer I guess.