Embracing the Heat

At the first sign of oppressive heat, say when sweat sticks my thighs to the hot leather seat of my car, when I must stop wearing silk, when I look for parking spots in the shade even if it means walking farther to the store...

when I time my errands to avoid going anywhere between the hours of noon and 8 pm, when I run at zero dark thirty to avoid being scorched and suffocated, when my dogs pant all day long, when going to the movies always sounds like a good idea, when my grass withers and browns, and when going outside feels like walking into an open oven, that is precisely when I make my summer exodus.

From early June through August, I get the heck out of dodge until I have to return so Luke has parental supervision between football practices. I do realize how lucky I am because all I need for work is a laptop and my brain. In California, I have a little oasis where I escape the heat and all semblance of a routine. I don’t see people I know at the grocery store (and I dress like it). I don’t wear a watch because I don’t care what time it is. I also don’t particularly care when, where or what we eat for dinner. I sleep as late as I want, stay up as late as I want, and run until I’m tired. It’s a free-for-all and it’s heavenly to me. I like myself better when I’m not overheated and over-structured. It fills my emotional cup. Shoot, it fills my emotional pitcher (with margaritas) and equips me to pour myself out for the rest of the year.

This summer, however, is going to look a little different. My son Luke tried, in the kindest, most graceful way possible, to draw a line in my Santa Barbara sand. He sweetly acknowledged that while most of the free world would probably love to jet between seeing mom in California and dad in Colorado, he was over it. He wants to be a teenager, stay home, sleep in, be bored, play Xbox, see his friends, lift weights with his teammates, eat Tex-Mex, and go out on the lake. He wants to sit in the pool all afternoon with his buddies and talk about things I don’t want to hear.

I get it.

I remember when my parents wanted to take us to Europe after my junior year of high school. I had never been, but I refused that trip faster than you could say non merci. Forget Paris, what about my boyfriend and my friends and that party at so-and-so’s house when their parents leave town? I wanted to be home where I belonged. Today, I could pretend to be too old to remember how that felt, but I’m not. I do remember. And I love that kid more than I love my comfort.

And so, instead of my exodus, I accept the genesis of a new kind of summer.

Home base will be here, in the heat and in my ‘hood. I will escape, but for short weekends rather than whole months. I will host housefuls of sweaty, hungry boys. I will faithfully restock the refrigerator and pantry. I will dry countless loads of wet pool towels. I will kick out cute, bikini-clad girls by 11 pm. I will endure what will surely feel like an endless kid-weekend. I will be cheerful and grateful (and sweaty). I will find ways to amuse myself and keep my cool (with margaritas, and Luke can drive). With only a few summers left until my empty nest turns into a raft, I will go with the flow and enjoy the sunshine — the good company of my people.


Illustration by Joy Gallagher

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