You may have noticed that it’s hot outside. If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “How did I end up in hell? I thought I was a semi-decent person.” When I walk outside in the morning, I feel like I may burst into flames. Before I get to my car I’m already sweating profusely and gasping for air, and once I get inside, I’m trapped in a virtual oven equipped with leather seats and a half-melted Dalí-esque steering wheel.
Yes, it’s summer in Texas. But this isn’t just any summer. It’s the summer to end all summers (please, God), with record-breaking heat, triple-digit temperatures, and the uncontrollable urge to sit in your freezer, atop the Häagen-Dazs bars. Here in Austin, it’s been over 100 degrees for nine days straight. When the meteorologists say a “cold front” is coming, they mean that it could plunge to a refreshing 98 degrees. If you ever want to describe summer in Texas to someone, all you have to say is that it’s like sitting in a sauna, fully clothed, while a sadistic personal trainer pours water over those stupid inexplicable rocks every five minutes.
I grew up in Virginia where summers were hot but not quite as oppressive and—here’s the difference—they only last three months. If my calculations are correct, Texas summers last anywhere from eight months to year-round. I experienced my first Texas summer when I moved here in 2000. Of course, I knew Texas was hot. But this was more than hot. This was like mirage-inducing hot. (Is that an icy bottled water in my path or am I about to suck on a rock?)
It’s not as though I wasn’t used to severe weather. I went to graduate school in Chicago. Whenever I told people here that I had lived in Chicago, the reaction was always the same. How could you live there in the winter? YOU MUST HAVE BEEN MISERABLE. And I would reply that the winters in Chicago are similar to the summers here in that you have to stay indoors unless faced with an emergency and, even then, you probably shouldn’t leave your house. In order to brave the elements in Chicago, you have to dress yourself accordingly—three fleeces layered on top of each other and a ski mask. Basically, do not leave any part of your body exposed. In order to handle the Texas heat, you also have to dress yourself accordingly—wear nothing (but 110 SPF sunscreen).
I am now in my ninth summer. Every year at this time, I think, this is it. I’ve finally reached my limit. I can’t take it anymore. I need to move to Vermont. The heat is frying my brain. I used to be so smart. But by the time October (mid-October?) rolls around, with its brisk 80-degree temperatures, I almost forget the agony of summer. Until next April.