Have I mentioned lately that it’s hot? I mean really, really, really, really HOT! And I know hot – I grew up in a city that gleefully reported their records for consecutive over-100-degree days, a city where the TV station always did a summer story demonstrating how eggs CAN actually fry on our sidewalks, a city that hosts a long-distance bicycle race each August called the “Hotter ‘n Hell 100.”
But my relationship with the summer heat in Texas is a bit different from here. At home, I go from my air-conditioned home to my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office, and then reverse it. Every shop, every building, (practically) every place has air-conditioning. My biggest problem with the heat is the time it takes my car to cool down. From late May until early September, we spend very little time outside. The kids don’t feel the heat, of course, so they are always asking to go outside. I say, “When it gets cooler.” They say, “When will that be,” thinking I’ll say something like “after 7 p.m.” Instead, I answer, “In October!” (And I mostly mean it!)
We don’t have the luxury of staying indoors in the air-conditioning in Xiamen. So I sweat. I mean really, really, really, really SWEAT! After the 40-minute walk to my office, I’m soaking wet. Sweat rolls down my neck, down my back, down my legs. Sweat rolls into my eyes. And all this, despite the fact that I carry a washcloth to wipe my face and neck during the walk (no dainty handkerchief will do the trick – I need one square foot of terrycloth!).
Blessedly, my office has air-conditioning, so after a few hours I cool down and dry off. But on the mornings I teach, I don’t have that luxury. So now I’m packing an extra shirt so I can change into something without obvious sweat stains before I teach.
Still, my new classroom is air-conditioned! Yippee!!!! Fat lot of good it does – the students consider it far too cold and keep opening the windows! I was still sweating like crazy when I started to teach today – not so much because of the room temperature, but residual heat from the walk – so during the break a student out of pity ran down 5 flights of stairs, to the store, and back up 5 flights of stairs to bring me a bottle of water! He, of course, never broke a sweat.
I admit, my internal thermostat is set higher than most people’s. I’ve never been cold a day in my life. I’m sweltering when others are feeling pretty comfortable. I MUCH prefer cold weather to warm weather – at least in cold weather, you have the option of just wearing more clothes. In the heat, there’s only so much you can take off and remain socially acceptable. And there’s no way that taking it ALL off would make a difference in Xiamen – if I walked down the street completely naked (now THERE’S a pretty picture!) I’d STILL be too hot and sweating like crazy!
But it’s not just my skewed temperature making me hot in Xiamen. Even the girls are sweating. Zoe sweats prodigiously from her scalp, and keeps borrowing my washcloth to wipe the drips from her nose! Maya limits herself to an all-over glow. I’m so paranoid about dehydration that I keep force-feeding them water as we walk. They just roll their eyes as I pull the water bottle out of my backpack AGAIN!
I had a student from last term visit me in my office today, and he complained that he had a terrible headache – he says he’s been in air-conditioning too much! I wanted to say to him, “Where have you been? Can I go there?!” I guess I should accept the heat with good grace. It is obviously God’s way of making it easier to leave Xiamen – only 28 days until we return to the Land of All Air-Conditioning All the Time!