In San Francisco I rarely saw my feet. Even though I had wall-to-wall carpet, my apartment got so glacial I almost always wore slipper socks at home. Shortly after I moved in, in mid-January, I called the leasing office to report that the heat in my unit was broken. Not so, the lady assured me; that’s just the way the building’s forced-air system was. “Space heaters,” she advised.
Space heaters? I recoiled at the mere mention. Every eco-nazi knew those things slurped up juice like elephants in a drought, in return for precious little warmth. But one evening, as I shivered on my floor wrapped in my only blankie (most of my household goods and furnishings still being in storage), I caved. I quitted my microfiber cocoon, exchanged my flannel jammies for jeans, hiked the half-mile to the streetcar, and chugged to Walgreen’s, where I snatched their last space heater.
Those were the good ole days.
It’s almost autumn by the calendar, school has begun, and Los Angeles is roasting. Baking. Frying. It’s a blast furnace. It’s hell (literally). The degrees are in the hundreds, and I don’t mean baccalaureates. I can’t move, I can’t drink enough water or eat enough salt, I’m going stir crazy because I hardly venture out. Ellay being essentially a desert, the temperature drops at night. It’s the saving grace of summer. But when it stays in the 90s till 10:00 or later, you know you are in the aforementioned hell, a real SoCal heat wave.
I grant you the unicoast is spoiled. One August I forayed to Dallas for several weeks. It was schizy. I expected to swelter in the daytime, between the high temperatures and the humidity. But I’d forgotten what it was like to be someplace where sundown just meant you roasted in the dark.
Oh, Essef has its hot spells, when the fog stubbornly vanishes and the sun makes The City glitter like hills of diamonds and, as an Arkansas traveler put it, San Franciscans sweat and swear because who needs air conditioning?
A few nights ago I dreamed I was ice skating. Awake, I pad barefoot across my psuedo-parquet and remember my first night back in Ellay, when it was so cold I shivered under my blankie until I remembered: My new place has heat! I cranked it.