61.8 F

Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Of corners and hot days

Heat,heat,clinging at the hairs on the back of my neck,sticking at the flesh padding my jointswhen I bend my elbows or knees.

I could tell you a story right now,but all I want to do is sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor with the window open so that the breeze clatters at the shades and stirs some life into the room.I want to eat my frozen grapes,listen to jangly tunes and pick at the purple and gold glass beads strewn across the carpet.They’re so pretty.

A couple facts I read recently:Macy’s is supposedly the second largest consumer of helium in the world (hello,Thanksgiving Day parade) and the U.S.military considered using bat bombs during WWII (yes,that would involve bombs attached to live bats).Completely unrelated,I know,but surely there’s a connection to be found between the expanding and the exploding.

Speaking of expansion,our wooden front door has expanded with the heat; a mere twist of the doorknob is no longer enough to let me in.I have to push,kick,shoulder my way in.

Clink,clank.I think my neighbors have come home; I think they’re taking out their keys and turning the lock to their front door.I hold my breath,wonder if they can hear my typing,the music reverberating from the belly of my laptop.

I don’t know why I hide like this,crouched on the floor of my bedroom,the top of myhead skimming the windowsill.I imagine that this must be what animals look likein the presence of a predator– silent,tensed,ready to spring into the roommate’s closet.

But what wouldI be hiding from,anyway?

Sometimes,when I am at home forthe summer,I am seized byirrationalnighttimefear.Anything can set it off– a moth beating against the window,the crickets in my backyard.I will crawl into my walk-in closet with a notebook or a novel.I will turn on the light.And in the stifling heat ofthe room,I will rest against hardwood floors,pull my knees up and wait for first light to sift through my curtains.

There is a swish,whoosh noise coming and going in my right ear.It sounds like seashells,likepool filters,like wind creeping through blades of grass.My father has problems with his hearing; his ears ache,they give out when he goes running.

I think of feet against pavement,of a constant pa-thump-pa-thump knocking at the back of my head.Some sort of rhythm.

When I was11,I’d glare at the metronome as it sat atop my piano,clicking at a tempo I couldn’t match.These days,I struggle to match footsteps andthe torn edges of pieces of paper.I struggle tomake things fit together again.

I could never keep rhythm,could never leap into games of jump rope at the correct time.I always hesitated,held back until the moment had passed.

Funny how hot days always make me think ofplaygrounds.I have one story to tell from those childhood summers.On a hot day when I was10,I took my dog fora walk to the local playground.I let him off his leash,and he flew across the pavement and into the parking lot.Then off he went,zipping towards the middle of the street just as a car turned the corner.

I think you can guess what happened next.

But the ending isn’t tragic,because my dog was okay.Shaken with a bloody nose,but otherwise uninjured.I remember crouching in the backyard,my toes chalky with dust as I urged my cowering dog to eat from a bowl of rice and fish porridge my mother had made for dinner.

And I remember that this was the moment when I liked my dog the most,when he was hiding in apatch of my grandmother’s vegetable garden.He wasn’t the large,brash creature thatharassed the neighborhood cats.We were kindred souls,he and I,hiding among the carrots.

“We’re going to be okay,I whispered to him as I held out a spoonful of porridge.The sun was beginning to fade into the other side of the fence.We were hiding,yes,butthere was some comfort in that.

Sometimes,heat boxes you in and youclaw at the walls,trying to escape.

And other times,you just need a corner to hide in.


TERESA PHAM rambles and raves in the heat.She apologizes for any incoherency on her part.Send cooling units toterpham@ucdavis.edu.


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