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home again, home again.
in a heat wave.
Four nights in my own bed. One candlelit dinner before the heat hit. Five bags unpacked. One day until school starts. Homecoming by the numbers.
We borrowed a fan to get us through the heat wave without installing an air conditioning unit on the 5th of September. On Saturday evening, when we rolled into Brooklyn, there was a chill in the air. I got giddy thinking about the cool morning walks to school. We ate takeout dinner at a darker hour than we have all summer. We lit a candle. The atmosphere in the apartment was very nearly cozy.
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At the Sunday morning farmers’ market the heat hadn’t yet reached inferno levels and we biked home a cargo load of tomatoes and greens and an indulgent bouquet of sunflowers and dahlias. Since then the temperature has risen and the heat’s taken the luster off things. We wilt inside so we post up on park benches and wet our necks with water from the fountains. We catch breezes on the East River Ferry. When we stop, the air’s perfumed with hot garbage. We return to the apartment to post up in front of dusty fans and eat popsicles. We don’t dare turn on the stove. Dinner is raw vegetables and cool dips. At night we move kids’ mattresses to the floor and try to find a comfortable angle for sleep.
I get James’s text while waiting for the bus with melting ice cream.
This heat is insane.
The bus is ten minutes behind schedule. I’d impressed the cashier at the grocery store with my packing skills: the bags of frozen fruit all piled together and jigsawed next to the butter and yogurt and milk in a thick canvas tote. You did good. He wasn’t sure I could carry everything myself, and either was I, but the bus stop was just across the street. One gold star for packing groceries, another for making it to the bus stop. I got this.
The bus smells like pickles. A teenaged girl drapes herself listlessly on her saintly mother. An elderly woman with long hair the color of an eggplant and a glittery turban crosses herself as we rumble past the Catholic Church. I wonder if it’s cool in there. Cooler than in here with my half gallon of condensing milk and the trickle of sweat pooling in my belly button.
I’m putting the AC in.
James meets me at the bus stop. The cardboard boxes filled with ice cream sandwiches have slumped. There’s a wet spot that’s growing on the canvas tote and another on my tank top.
It might take me a few days to get into the groove of things, but an air conditioner is running and school starts tomorrow and somehow, I think, we’re all gonna make it.