It's been about 100 degrees in Manhattan the past two days. Sometime yesterday morning, my air conditioner lost its will and started spewing out hot air. Welcome to hell.
I thought it was a temporary failure, so I turned it off to let it rest and went to the gym in the late afternoon. The air conditioning at the gym is solid, but after a half hour on the treadmill, I was sweating buckets. The only time I can recall sweating more was on my bike ride up Mont Ventoux in 2002, when a literal waterfall of sweat formed on my nose.
In the locker room, I returned my towel to the laundry bin, the towel so soaking wet it was as if I'd dropped it in the hot tub. Outside, the pavement was disgorging all the heat it had soaked up from the sun during the day. I felt like the city was trying to sweat me out of its pores.
Back home, I stood in front of my air conditioner, muttered a little prayer under my breath, and turned it on. For a few seconds, cold air emerged, but the chill began diminishing at a steady rate. I hopped in the shower and took turned the water to the coldest setting and sat under it for as long as I could bear. It's probably not healthy to expose one's body to such extreme temperature swings, but I felt like I was overheating.
As soon as I got out of the shower, I started sweating again. I haven't stopped sweating since. My super still hasn't shown up. Last night I had to crash on my brother's sofa. I may try to sneak into Sephora tonight with a sleeping bag and crash behind the cosmetics counter. It feels like the North Pole in there.
Every now and then, something happens and my air conditioner works again for about a minute. Those moments remind me of those occasional euphoric highs, when for some reason one's internal chemistry aligns in a perfect eclipse of any anxiety or sorrow.