Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Aaaahhhh, air conditioning!

Air conditioners on sale at Costco, just in time for summer. Really cool ones, digital, with remote controls. You can set them for a particular room temperature, and they’ll cool your room just way you want it. They’ll cool up to a 10 x 15 room, and for only $100. I bought three, one for each bedroom, and one for the living room. (Yes, our rooms really are that small—this is NY, after all.) I’ve never bought a big ticket item like this in multiples. Interesting feeling to actually be able to afford it. So I spent Saturday evening installing them in the windows and then ‘shrink wrapping’ the window above the unit with that plastic window insulation to keep the heat out, and the cool air inside. A bit of a job, but then, I’m used to doing things myself -- I’ve lived alone since I was a senior in high school (okay, alone in the sense of no adults; I do have two kids, so I’m never really ‘alone’).

As I’m putting in the new units, I start thinking about what to do with the old conditioners. They still work, just not as effectively, or as energy efficiently (they are 5 or 6 years old). I started wishing there were a donation system for the elderly, much like the used cell phone donation systems that nonprofits sometimes have. I think about the elderly, especially in the city, in walk-ups with no air conditioning, no fan even, and how they survive the heat waves of the city. Well, sometimes don’t survive, as we seem to lose a few every summer to the heat. Even an older air conditioner would be a godsend to someone in that position. I’ll have to do a little research and see what I can come up with.

I am remembering, too, and reminiscing with my daughter, how we used to handle the heat when we were too poor for even a fan. Inside the apartment would be unbearable, but getting out of the place, to outside, was just as unbearable. And we couldn’t really afford to go anywhere. Lakes and beaches were too far away, and I couldn’t afford the gas to get there. And the local pool had an entrance fee that I couldn’t afford. So I’d make a lunch, pack us up and go, of all places, to the local mall. The mall had a small playground for the children, and a place for parents to sit. So I’d bring a good book, my daughter would play, and my son would ‘hang out’ with a friend he’d bring along. We’d spend the hottest hours of the day in the cool comfort of mall air conditioning. We were really lucky to live so close to a public, air conditioned facility.

Now we’re enjoying the cool air of multiple air conditioners, in each room! Who would’ve thought we’d ever get here? I’m finding, though, as I can afford more things, that I can’t forget that there are people everywhere who are where I was financially. I feel almost guilty for enjoying things when others can’t, especially when I remember what it was like for us. Honestly, I think that’s a good thing. I should never forget where I’ve come from, or that others are still there. But right now, at this moment...aaahhhh, air conditioning!

The crying game

Twisted my ankle coming out of the gym Friday after work. Since I’d sprained it about 6 weeks ago, it was still a bit wimpy, and needless to say, it hurt…a lot. I started laughing, which of course caught the attention of my colleague and work-out partner. Her comment:

“Well it can’t hurt that bad if you’re laughing. You’d be crying if it were really bad.”
“Well,” I respond, “if I could cry, I would be.”
“What do you mean, if you could cry; everyone can cry.”
“No, everyone can’t cry…lots of people can’t. I can’t.”

Well, the ‘disagreement’ went on in the same vein, her insisting that everyone can cry, me suggesting that not everyone can or does. Many children learn early in life that crying can get you into trouble—a lot of trouble. The phrase “Stop crying, or I’ll really give you something to cry about” isn’t an empty threat. But, we’re in the minority out there; most people just don’t understand us, and don’t take the time to try.

“I know he hurt your feelings. It’s okay to cry, you know.”
“What do you do if you can’t cry?”
“It’s not normal.”
“Maybe it’s a physical problem; have you been to the doctor?”

Of course it’s okay to cry; I don’t need your permission. And it’s not a physical problem, and it’s perfectly normal…for me. I can feel the tears…way down deep inside, in the inner core of my being—they’re definitely there. They just never get to the surface. They sometimes make me feel very sad. No, that’s not the word…melancholy—yes, I like melancholy, I like that word. They sometimes make me feel melancholy.

“How do you feel about…oh, that’s right, you don’t feel, do you?”

Ah, this one hurts every time I hear it. The assumption that because one doesn’t cry, one doesn’t feel. If you don’t cry, then you must be a cold, heartless bitch, right? If anything, I think people who don’t cry actually feel things more. They feel things deeper, and they feel things longer, because they can’t just cry it all up and move on. It stays there, deep down inside.

The people who are close to me have come to understand me, and they do not concerns themselves with whether or not I cry when in physical or emotional pain. The rest—well, maybe one day they’ll understand. And, maybe one day, I’ll actually cry. Stranger things have happened, lol.