by Matt Worley
It's been a while since there's been a chill in the air when I get into my car each morning, ready to navigate the morning drivers in my never-ending quest to get to work before someone notices I'm really late. In the winter (which is a relative term around here, we didn't actually have much of a winter this year), it's really cold in the mornings. I sit and wait for the car to defrost and hope that the song on the radio won't be by Metallica, Limp Bizkit or Creed. I hate pushing the tape into the player before I even pull out of the driveway. It's like the first failure of the day. Even the radio station isn't catering to my state of mind.
But dealing with the cold in the morning is harder than dealing with heat. Because the heat doesn't really kick in until around 11 or 12. And then it doesn't stop kicking until 7 or 8 in the evening. Which is what it's been like here in the high desert for the last few weeks. It's been damn hot.
Being an office job lackey, I work in an air-conditioned building. The problem with this is that I forget or don't realize how hot it is outside. In my office, the air conditioning is controlled from an inner room that doesn't get the same kind of sun bearing down on it (my office is on the west side of the building, sucking up all the afternoon sun). Consequently, it can be a rather comfortable 78 degrees in the inner room with the temperature control, but close to 90 in my office. It is a constant battle to stay comfortable in the afternoons.
Usually the hints that it is getting hot happen incrementally. I start to feel warm, maybe too warm considering I have to wear pants everyday (shorts were banned the first summer I worked at this office--mostly because of the leggy 19-year-old girls who served as our interns at the time). And then a little sweat starts to settle on my forehead as I feverishly do my computer magic.
That's when I turn to my office mate and ask, "Are you feeling hot?"
Usually she says, "Yes!" and we kind of laugh a bit because there is an obvious double entendre in the question itself. One of us then scampers to the temperature controls in the other room to see just how hot it really is, and if it's feasible to crank the AC.
Living here in the desert makes us lizards. We are cold-blooded monsters that must sun in the morning to warm up and hide in the cracks between the rocks every afternoon to cool off.
When I get home from work, my house is always hotter than the office. We have a swamp cooler at home, but rarely use the swamp part, preferring to just have the fan pull cool air in from outside. Of course, this plan only works when it's cooler outside than it is inside. Otherwise, we just get a lot of hot air blowing down on the living room.
If we don't get some rain soon, the swamp mechanism might have to be engaged. Because it's damn hot.
I can take hotter climes at home because I'm not usually working on anything or really care if I smell like a festering dead animal on the side of the road. Light up the incense, open the windows, let the dry desert air move all that funk somewhere else.
I lie on the floor, arms and legs spread to properly facilitate the heat radiating off my body in the most efficient way possible and listen to the stereo tell me that Shady's back, back again.
It's usually at about this time when I realize that terrorists (or the now gung-ho anti-terrorists at the FBI/CIA or whatever they're gonna call it now) will never understand this. This way of living.
Not living in fear, not living in a state-of-alert, not living to save myself to keep myself living just a little while longer, not thinking that the sum of all fears is really just making people too fucking paranoid to function properly--nope, just living.
The heat has come to the desert. And as I look out at the world from beneath my favorite cooling rock, I know it'll all be fine. It might even rain someday.
Right now, though, it's damn hot.