for the most part, it wasn't much different than any other hot, muggy day in new york. the trash on the sidewalk wasn't any less putrid. my clothes still greedily lapped up the sweat that made me sticky all over. and, everyone was still moving slowly through the air's thickness. always in the summer you begin to get a great appreciation for the physical fluidity of air. it seems ridiculous, i understand. however, air is technically a fluid. and in the summer, you learn it.
the *météo* is certainly comparable in other parts of this country, i understand that too. washington d.c. is particularly painful in the summer months. it used to be a swamp with water in it. then it got drained. now it's a swamp with hot air floating about. frankly, i find this situation to be worse than if the swamp water was still around. where one could have pointed at the object of his ire, now the soppiness taunts him as the invisible, yet somehow ever-palpable Spectre. st. louis is pretty damp as well. and let's not forget new orleans.
well, to make matters worse on this particular day, i hadn't showered ...yet. it all really started the night before. impromptu plans led to new introductions, which led to new friends, which led to new adventures. it was one of those nights where everything just kept falling into place. i met a dog named Tiger. I saw stag-horn ferns. I played on a playground at four in the morning (highly recommended). next thing i know, i'm emerging from the murky L-train stairway on 14th street at around 3pm, a bit beaten down from a long night.
dressed in yesterday's clothes, i'm having trouble climbing the stairs because my jeans are clinging so tightly to my sweaty legs that mobility is becoming an issue. my t-shirt isn't doing me any favors either. i run my fingers through my hair at the end of a half-hearted "everything-still-there?" full-body pat-down. my coif remains standing. it would be kind to say that i was mildly disheveled. but then to say that, you'd have to be blind. and even then, you'd be a pretty dumb blind person because i smelled like shit.
these details all augmented awkwardly when met with the saturated air. it was like one of those little sponge dinosaurs that they cram into a plastic pill case. and, when you see it, you're thinking to yourself, "There can't be a dinosaur in there! Nuh uh!" but, then, you drop it into the bathroom sink after you plugged the drain; and, low-and-behold, five minutes later: a proper sponge dinosaur. and, he's purple no less! ...of course, you're six years old at this point.
at any rate, i was a mess. time to stumble home. and stumble i did, through the heat and steam of the new york city summer. and now, thunder clouds began to mingle and gather like lumpish lambs in the skies overhead. this was july fourth, 2007.
i emerged from the shower... cleaner ...but, still sweating. the heat and the humidity were pretty much inescapable. however, those storm clouds promised to bring some release to our supersaturated situation. in the grey duldrums that were forming, i managed to climb the stairs of my new apartment in my new neighborhood to the roof. i was told the fireworks would begin soon and that i was in a prime spot to see them. i'd been living in new york for four years, and, to be honest, had never actually seen those bright lights in the sky.
there is, however, the great sensation of hearing the ballistics. the city's so incredibly dense and built-up that it has the tendency to act as an echo chamber. and, as the ordnances blast and bellow, they send waves of cacauphony rumbling through the streets, down the avenues, bouncing off glass and steel and stone as if they were trampolines. this, i've heard ...but never seen.
so, i had climbed to the roof. and sat--waiting. apparently i had arrived a bit early. no matter. this afforded me some time to observe my new surroundings from a heightened vantage point. i started to wander somewhat scatterbraindedly about my roof, examing the intricacies and odd craftsmanship that, over the decades, had amassed in the form of mismatched brick, tar-to-mortar-and-back-again patches, jury-rigged butresses, the odd seedling, and all the countless abandoned buckets and lumber left rotting and withering in far corners and nooks. there were passageways and walkthroughs. steam pipes and sky lights. and, there were makeshift stairs to the adjacent roof. all of these details were eerily exagerated by the dim grey smoke-light slowly pouring through the clouds this particular evening. everything was made darker.
and then all was made wetter. the clouds gently gave way, breaking under the weight of their burden, and sprinkling a cool, consistent haze upon us all that night.