I'm groggy as I pull breakfast together. We had all the upstairs windows open overnight with fans in those too, but the constant buzz and strangely warm breeze, like a giant's exhalations, make for poor sleep. We are spoiled, living in the Pacific Northwest, where summers are short -- the rest of the country has had its hot temperatures for weeks. But they have air conditioning, I mumble in my mind. For July and August, I will be on ventilation duty, drawing blinds or opening them, flipping fans to blow in or out, depending on the indoor/outdoor temperature differential. I wouldn't mind if it actually had a detectable effect on days like this.
I'm not the only one feeling the weather. D.'s brother, who recently moved up here to start college, has agreed to watch O. once a week for two hours in the morning to give me chore-and-errand time so I can write while O. naps. He calls shortly after we sit down at the kitchen table -- he has a migraine and won't be coming.
I resign myself to juggling O. and the paperwork I've put on my agenda. We are -- surprise -- trying to get an air conditioner installed, but the homeowner's association has a Modification Request Form for such things that's more daunting than a college application. I've bogged down at the section that asks for a description of the project. How much detail do I need to provide? Illustrate on diagram, it simply says, to scale. I'm no contractor, but I suspect just sketching in a box on our porch and labeling it "A/C" isn't going to suffice. There will be wiring and refrigerant piping and other small but significant parts that I don't know the first thing about, all of which will be connected in some way from the unit to the house.
O. scarfs his yogurt and cereal but pushes scrambled eggs away. Smart kid. He's not inclined to eat anything heavy after yesterday's heat. For the rest of the morning before naptime, he alternates between stacking board books in an empty Huggies box and chugging water from a sippy cup. I attempt to compose a description of the air conditioner project that addresses the design guidelines on the form, but every time I turn my attention to the directions, O. tries to climb onto the couch with me. I abandon the papers and my laptop, neither of which will benefit from an accidental splash or O.'s damp hands, and move on to sorting mail. O. takes all the unwanted coupons and grocery circulars and spreads them on the floor. Losing interest, he turns to the box fans. I grab his fingers just before he shoves them through the plastic grille at the blades he cannot see.
This is a new wrinkle, I think. Last summer, O. wasn't mobile enough to get remotely near the fans on his own. The rest of the day stretches out like a mirage retreating toward the horizon -- I'm not looking forward to being on this additional piece of ventilation duty.
He finally naps. I sit down to my real work. At least I can run the fans while O.'s asleep. But their drone is so loud that I can't hear myself think. I read and reread for twenty minutes a draft of an essay that is suddenly a collage of disconnected words. Sweat or write, I say. I can't bear the idea of losing this time to something as stupid as this noise, but not cooling the house means another day of the same. Stagnant progress or stagnant air?
I close the file, open a blank page, and give in to neither.
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