The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is exulted above all the peoples.
We’ve sweated our way through the last six days. Before that, London kept cool, literally. I wore two layers and turned my gray jacket that has a non-thievable inside pocket into a purse. My jeans and I maintained a comfortably close relationship and I hardly considered wearing shoes and socks a hardship. In fact, at times the heater and I bonded over its minimal output while I tried to keep my wedding ring on my small, cold finger.
Those days are a happy memory now. Since Thursday an oppressive, sweaty heat has descended on the city. It wraps itself around our bodies at night, follows us onto stifling airless busses, even eases its way deep underground onto the tubes. The air only feels cooler when we step off a sun-, engine-, and body-heated bus into the open air. Yet the heat fills up the polluted London air, too, as we gasp for a cool breath. Fashionable women take the opportunity to wear skimpy, frilly skirts that barely cover their posteriors in the name of comfort. Women never wear shorts here: skirts or capris make up their public hot-weather repertoir. All manner of skirts pass up and down King’s Road, from long and austere to ones that look shrink-wrapped to their owners. Stores accept the influx of customers seeking asylum in the air conditioned walls.
I’ve taken to putting my head in the refrigerator and splashing water on my endlessly sweaty (but never comfortable) arms and face. Pasta and porridge languish unloved in my cupboard while I purchase yogurt every other day. Frozen strawberries and cold milk fill my stomach. Even cold showers cannot refresh away the days of sweat and nights of blanketless tossing slumber. My hands constantly feel filthy from the miasma of sweat that coats them from the moment I awake (possibly before, I just don’t know); I wash them often but my body keeps believing in evaporative cooling although you and I know that in muggy weather no amount of sweating can cool us down.
The rising sun starts heating my room at 4:45 am. By the time I drag myself out of my sweaty sheets it has attained a temperature rivalled only by the thermonuclear reactions occurring in that venerable star itself. The 10th floor offers not only sweeping views of the city, but also endless potential for containing heat rising through the rest of the building. We creep around breaking windows to open them wider and when we can’t we gasp through the three-inch crack of air that mocks our need for refreshment. But we keep trying to cool off. So here’s hoping that today’s ice-water shower will wash away the week of sweat and grime to bring back refreshingly cool 60° weather to my person, if not to the city.