I can hear Odie in the kitchen, stacking dishes in the dishwasher. And it’s making me HOT.
Not that I’m not already hot. It’s over a hundred degrees today here in Southern California. We live in a rental house that has an ancient, inefficient window air conditioner in the bedroom and a living room full of windows that don’t open. By 7 p.m. every night, it’s cooler outside than inside our house and stays that way until the next day. Summers here kind of suck. But we will not move because we cannot afford to buy a house in this neighborhood that we love, and the rent is affordable.
I despise the heat. I’m a jeans and sweaters kind of gal. I don’t think I’ve worn shorts since the seventies. My arms are two of my least favorite body parts, so I dread tank tops and short sleeves. Summer means minimal clothing, sunscreen, and glasses slipping down my sweaty nose. It is my least favorite time of year.
I’m conflicted, though, because since I’m a teacher, I don’t work during the summer, and not working is heavenly. I’ve even managed to get over the not being paid part. Odie and I are home together all day, every day. We enjoy each other most of the time, so it’s like hanging out with your best friend at camp for 8 weeks. Except there’s no air-conditioning. But there ARE cocktails. And sex. Sometimes.
Summer also means gatherings of friends at the Saints’ house (not their real name). Work friends, Saint extended family, friends of friends, and oodles of children flock to the Saints’ backyard paradise where there is swimming, copious white wine drinking, and great conversation. We gossip, argue politics, talk art, drum, sing, push children on swings, and cuddle babies. Gossiping is one of my favorite activities. Odie tries to avoid it, and doesn’t have my love for it. Usually there is someone at the Saints’ who will indulge me.
Odie and I take turns chasing after Baby V. Last summer we took turns holding her sweaty little infant body and passing her around to admirers. I hovered nervously over every person who held her, especially the young children who thought she was a novel little doll. I was overwrought with images of her fragile little head tumbling to the concrete. My postpartum experience was not depression, but overwhelming anxiety. I’ve relaxed a lot more than Odie has. He still thinks she is going to go shattering to the ground at all times, but she’s a great walker and she catches herself on her hands when she tumbles. Now I’m more likely to be sitting deep in conversation with a Saint family member or a friend and have no idea where Baby V is. And I’m totally relaxed about it.
A few weeks ago, Odie asked me what I like to do. We’ve been trying to find some common ground for enjoying each other, since we have grown apart since becoming parents. It was hard to answer. Lately I feel like I enjoy showering alone, sitting alone, and napping alone. Because I always have someone else’s needs to meet. I wanted to say, “I like not meeting someone else’s needs for ten fucking minutes.” What I have remembered after our wonderful evening at the Saints’ this week is that I love talking with friends, drinking with friends, eating with friends, passing babies around with friends, and gossiping with friends. My best times are spent like this (well, when I’m not sitting by myself having a nice glass of wine with no side of whine).
The heat is horrible and I hate it. In a few months, though, the fall chill will come (probably not until December) and I will start bundling Baby V into sweaters and socks once again. We will cherish our Fridays at the end of work weeks and nuzzle in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Hustling and bustling throughout the week, missing each other, missing the lazy days of summer. So I’m embracing the heat for once in my white, pasty life. Because heat means summer and summer means freedom and freedom means time with the people who make time pass too quickly.