Thursday, June 28, 2007

i remember when summer was warm

Waking up on this cool, overcast "summer" morning in Portland, I can't help but think back fondly to a time in my life when summer mornings were... actually... warm. When it was warm, in fact, ALL DAY during summer. Even into the night.

SK will mock me, and I have no defense. Every summer I start to whine b/c it's not hot enough. I grew up in the South where summer unofficially starts around the end of April and lasts at least through October. I spent around 25 years getting myself acclimated to at least 5 months of hot, steamy summer and, you know, pardon me if my body starts to convulse when July is breathing down my neck and I still need a sweater to go outside.

I will not pound my chest and scream that it isn't fair. I won't even say another word about this Portland dreariness that's happening right now. I will, instead, tell you a little story about a lovely summer morning in Raleigh, NC a few years ago.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Technically, it was late spring, not even summer yet, in 1998, but the temps and humidity were already kicking in. I was living out in the boonies with my mom, commuting a loooooooooong way to my job in Chapel Hill, and generally behaving like a hermit.

However, on this particular occasion I'd managed to hook back up with my very good, old friend Jodi who lived in Raleigh and we'd gone out the night before for drinks with her sister and some friends. Jodi, you probably won't remember, was the woman from my high school rock band, the woman I had such a huge crush on, the woman I finally had a sweet little fling with during the summer of '94. Jodi and I had remained really close through all those years and she was, at the time of this story, still one of my absolute favorite people.

Well, as I said, we'd gone out the night before and I'd had way too much to drink. It was one of those nights when the alcohol lifted me up and gave me false hope that I had prospects of making a connection with an actual, real-live woman after so many months alone. Poor me. On those nights, the alcohol is like a little demon masquerading as my best friend, sitting on my shoulder and whispering to me things like "See the way she just looked at you? She would *never* have looked at you that way if she didn't think you were cute. Look! She did it again!" Oh that demon!

So I kept drinking in order to keep hearing the instructions of that wicked little demon and I ended up passing out in Jodi's bed around 2am. I woke insanely early the next morning, somewhere between 6 and 7. I woke slowly, I was dreamy... I was probably still a little bit drunk actually. My eyes opened and I felt immediately that I was in heaven.

Jodi was a painter and, at that time, she was living on the second floor of this very old building just off Hillsborough St, with a few of her friends. She had decided to use as her bedroom a rickety old sun room with splintery wood floors and walls made entirely of windows. She wanted the light for painting.

When I woke, the room was full of that ethereal, diffuse morning light, bright and gauzy at the same time. The windows were all open and the air in the room was warm and sweet, carrying on it the sounds of birds and people and the fainter sounds of cars over on Hillsborough. There were trees around the windows, and the morning sunlight shone through their green leaves and lit the leaves up like lamps, those leaves that moved and rustled in the breeze. It was like waking up in a treehouse on a gorgeous morning where everything you saw was perfect.

It was a sound, actually, that had dragged me out of sleep. A rhythmic, brushing sound that had been nagging my mind and I swam up out of sleep trying to figure out what that strange sound could be. I looked over, finally, and saw Jodi standing up on a stool, scrubbing a soapy brush rythmically up and down one of the window screens. Short, plump little Jodi, with cut-off jean shorts and a tiny t-shirt lifting up off her soft little belly as she stretched her arms up to reach the top of the screen.

"What are you doing?" I finally asked.

She beamed at me. "I'm cleaning the screens!" She was so happy for some reason and even though I couldn't understand how or why she'd want to be up so early after drinking so much, there was something strangely comforting about the scratching of the brush on the screens, and her presence there engaged in that monotonous task. I knew she wasn't going anywhere and I knew I could lay there as long as I wanted, watching her, in that gorgeous room, with that gorgeous warm, sweet, summer air all around me, and the green tree leaves and the birds and the sounds of the people down below. I was so happy. I think it was the happiest morning I have ever had.

(Post-script -- unfortunately, as it turns out, I was really hungover, a fact I did not fully realize until I got up to go to the bathroom. What was paradise horizontally became a sickly vertigo once I was vertical. Oh well. I came back to bed after that first excursion out and lay there enjoying the scene for several hours before I finally had to drag myself out and go to work. Even though my job started at noon, I was still an hour late and obviously hungover when I got there. I had to leave after an hour to "go get some food" -- but I ended up falling asleep in my car and sleeping for an hour with my hand on my forehead, so I not only came back late to the office, but I came back with the hair above my forehead standing straight up like Ed Grimly. So, what started out as my best morning ever, ripened into my most irresponsible day at work ever. The end.)

4 Comments:

Blogger south carolina girl said...

take away the alcohol and the girl...and there's nothing to miss about the heat and humidity, trust me...cool portland sounds nice today...

11:12 AM  
Blogger heather said...

awesome story man

3:54 PM  
Blogger witchtrivets said...

Good story, I can totally see that house on Hillsborough St and hear the birds and feel that heat.

It was only a year ago I was in Raleigh myself and I am not missing the heat (maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder?). By now, it is so hot you can't even go outside during daylight. A/C running full blast even at night -- it makes even the bugs aggressive. Have I mentioned the 4 inch long hornets that enjoy this weather? And the fact that most people can only make it through a couple of hours of the Eno Festival before heading back home to sit inside in their underwear with the windows closed and the shades drawn -- or maybe that is just me. The heat is unreasonable. I'll take a handful of those days, but not 4 four freakin months. I love the cool. I am even starting to like the rain.

8:54 AM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

scg -- yeah, yeah, i still think there's *something* to miss about it.

heather -- thanks man

witchtrivets -- the eno festival! i hadn't thought about that for YEARS! i lived in durham from first grade to fourth and spent those formative years playing in the eno river as much as possible. wow. thanks for the flashback. however, i do still slightly miss the heat and humidity. probably b/c i've been out of it for so long and i've forgotten the full impact. leave me with my deranged fantasies, please. :-)

9:17 AM  

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