With temperatures in the high 20s (Celsius) that feel more like the mid 30s, thanks to suffocating humidity, the same question gets asked every time I meet someone:
“So, do you have AC in your house?”
My response: “Yes, but we don’t use it.”
That usually gets a few raised eyebrows, to which I respond that we live in an old house that stays cool, and there’s a nice breeze coming off the lake, so I like to leave the windows open….etc etc.
But the real reason for not using the AC – which, I admit, would make the sticky days much easier to bear – is because I spend a good eight months out of the year freezing my butt off! For most of those winter days I’m longing for intense summer heat, so why on earth would I then proceed to cool down my house when it’s finally nice and hot?
After months of waiting, I’m no longer padding around in a double layer of socks, with fuzzy moccasins and a sweater, or clunky winter boots, or a woolen hat and gloves, or snowpants, or anything, except the lightest articles of clothing I own. Summer is so brief and fleeting up here on the 45th parallel that I’d prefer to feel uncomfortably hot and sticky as a reminder of how truly wonderful and fleeting it is.
Secondly, I’m claustrophobic. One day last summer we decided to use the AC for the first (and last) time because the forecast was horrendously hot. At 6 a.m., I sat at my computer, hearing the air conditioner kick into action and watching a beautifully refreshing breeze toss the trees outside. By 6:30 a.m., I was on the verge of a panic attack, obsessively watching the wind that I couldn’t feel. I was living in a vacuum, disconnected from what was happening outside, and I started sobbing that I couldn’t handle it. AC got turned off, windows opened, and the day turned out just fine, albeit rather sticky.
There’s nothing a cool shower can’t help. I’ve lived in northeastern Brazil, where the temperatures get significantly hotter than here, and most people have 5-7 showers daily – quick, cool rinses that refuel one’s energy and refresh one’s spirit. I’ve worn jeans in that weather for days on end. Surely I can handle this without the help of AC.
What really gets me is listening to the CBC forecast weather as if it’s apocalyptic. Heat waves, smog alerts, record-breaking temperatures – the list goes on. The announcer urges people to use the cooling stations set up throughout the city and warns people with respiratory problems not to leave their homes. I acknowledge the value and importance in taking care if you do have health problems, but … seriously? A large number of Toronto’s population has emigrated from countries that are far hotter and far smoggier than ours. (When I think of all those wonderfully helpful cooling stations I used during my trip to Mumbai… oh, wait, there were none!)
I’m not begrudging anyone else their wonderful AC. I benefit when I go to visit. But I simply can’t bring myself to use it in my own home. Yes, I’m stubborn about it, but mostly I want to feel the heat. I want to be reminded of how deliciously warm and uncomfortable it is, because before I know it, I’ll be wrapped up in a quilt, slurping hot tea, and dreaming of these hot summer days that I’m loving right now.