It’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m sitting in the dark like a vampire. I’ve drawn all the curtains in the flat in an attempt to block the sunlight. Estate agents advertise “sunny” flats like it’s a good thing. When it’s 90 degrees out I don’t want a sunny flat, I want to not feel like I’m pulling off a bandaid every time I stand up from my leather chair.
According to my Mac desktop weather app, yesterday it was 90 degrees in London. It says it’s only 66 out now, but I’m not taking any chances. The curtains remain closed. Just like it can’t do snow, London can’t do heat. Half the restaurants don’t have AC, most of the trains don’t, and almost none of the houses and flats have it. I was weary of this when we moved here. I don’t like when people say “But you don’t need AC.” People told me that in Chicago. I subleased an apartment for a summer internship and the girl promised me that the apartment never got that hot. The day after I moved in I found myself at Circuit City buying a portable AC unit that sucked up almost my entire first internship paycheck. I don’t do heat, and I certainly don’t buy “It never gets hot enough for air conditioning.” So this whole summer I kept waiting for London to heat up and that miserable “I am going to die in a puddle of my own sweat” feeling to set in. 60 degrees in June felt good, but it also felt wrong… like it was too good to be true. So sure enough, London decided to be like all the other cities in June and got extraordinarily hot during the past two days. It was both literally and figuratively not cool.
So naturally I decided to go grocery shopping yesterday, on the hottest day of the year so far. I knew it was a horrible idea the minute it crept into my head, but the forecast said rain on Tuesday, and I couldn’t wait until Wednesday to get food. So I had to choose — drag my shopping trolley through the heat or rain. By the time I arrived at Sainsbury’s my face was literally dripping in sweat — I may have been drier had I chose the rain option. I made a bee line for the frozen food section, then stood in front of the open freezer door “deciding on which frozen lollies to get” for longer than necessary. (I didn’t get any, because the ones I wanted weren’t on sale anymore, and I will not pay £2.39 (almost $4) for three mango smoothie frozen lollies. Rip off.) I took my time shopping around, enjoying the AC, and then that horrible thing happened, when you spend too much time in the AC, almost to the point of getting cold, and you forget how miserable it is outside, and you think you will get to experience that wonderful cold feeling forever. But you can’t. Before I knew it, I was back in the heat, this time dragging a heavy trolley behind me. I walked close to the storefronts, catching bursts of AC every time someone opened a door. I finally made it back, a full-on hot mess (not the drunk but attractive kind, the really sweaty kind). The porter looked at me and said, “Wow, it’s hot out, right?” And when he added, “You alright?” I think he honestly meant “Are you going to pass out?” instead of the usual “How are you?” it means. My flat wasn’t full-on uncomfortable yet, but it wasn’t good. The worst feeling is coming in from the heat and being greeted by room temperature air, instead of a nice blast of AC. OK, the worst feeling is probably hot air instead of room temperature. We’re not quite there yet, although last night it got close — close enough that we had to unplug the 1,500-watt transformer from one of the TVs and dig out the fan we brought from the US that we once deemed “useless” here and almost threw out. Thankfully we didn’t.
To top things off, they are currently doing some type of construction or remodeling in and around my building. So I’m sitting here in the dark, borderline-overheated, legs sticking to the leather chair, trying to get things done while I blast Yanni (don’t judge) to try to cover up the dental drills (or whatever they’re using up there that is ridiculously loud). It feels just like Chicago last summer when the building’s AC broke and they were forever remodeling. Ah, sweet memories…