6.26.2006

Sticky.



It is a gloriously humid Friday! New York in June, what’s not to love?

I want to tell you about New York in June, will you let me? (Please?) It goes like this:

You step outside. Simultaneously you feel AND smell the heat. You smell everything in a two-mile radius. Everything smells. At the bottom of my building there is a grocery store called the Garden of Eden, and they put their fresh fruit out on the street, and when you walk out of the building you smell this crazy smell of warm, ripe, partially rotting fruit. You smell the garbage on the corner, you smell the hot dogs in the cart. You smell the perfume of the woman in front of you and the body odor of the man behind you. You smell the exhaust of the cars and the drippings from the window unit air conditioners. You can smell the cement.

Your skin feels like it has been misted by warm broccoli water. You walk and you can feel the heat of your body steaming your clothes from the inside out, and the heat of the city steaming your clothes from the outside in. Very soon these clothes become a second skin. Sticky. Your feet are sweating; if you are wearing sandals your feet are already covered in street that you will have to wash off before you get into your clean white sheets for bed.

You reach the subway, and as you descend into the bowels of the tunnels the air grows more warm, more still, more full. You fish for your MetroCard in your bag and you swipe it at the turnstiles. They click and you push through. You weave through the throng of humanity coming in, going out. You smell dirty clothes and hair spray and gold jewelry. And then, you wait. The back of your knees begin to sweat, you feel a little trickle down your spine; your hair has fallen flat. Your eyebrows begin to sweat. The subway stinks. Urine. Feces. Smoke. Grease. Oil. Doritos. Doritos? Doritos.

The train comes and with it comes a woosh of hot air. It cools your sweaty skin and you ready yourself for the battle to come. The doors open and you go in after they come out. You hug your bag to your body as you twist and turn to squeeze in. You brush up against skin. “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Please.” Boop-Boop.

The train rocks back and forth. It is air-conditioned in the train but it isn’t much relief. The train is packed. Standing room only.

The train comes to a stop and you prepare yourself for the brakes, but you’re still not prepared for it and you jerk a bit as you try to stay steady. The doors open. This time you fight to get out.

You push out through the warm metal of the subway turnstile and you walk up the stairs. With each step the sun gets brighter, hotter. Your thighs start to burn. You get to the top and the sidewalk is bustling. You move quickly and dodge and weave through the tourists, you walk quickly but not too fast, you are a part of a living, breathing organism.

We have taken to running the air conditioning only in the bedroom where we keep the puppy, the lucky duck. The effect of this is that when we come home from work we walk into a stale, hot, terribly uncomfortable living room. We put down our laptop bags and take off our uncomfortable shoes. We undo our buttons and then open the door to the bedroom. The blast of cool air that meets us and the change in atmosphere we feel is like that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door of her black and white home to reveal the lush, technicolored world of Munchkin Land. It is like we are leaving the pits of hell and emerging, lifelike and wondrous, into the clouds of heaven.

1 comment :

  1. stumbled upon this post -- ha! love your writing, even back then. xo

    ReplyDelete

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