Friday, August 26, 2011


is what Portland is right now. HOT. And for Portland, that is not a common state.

What's more uncommon, and what's made the heat somewhat unpleasant, is that it's muggy.

I thought I was losing my mind. Or that perhaps so many summer weeks below 80 degrees had turned me into a baby, had made me lose my East Coast tolerance for heat. You see, typically Portland summers are a pleasant 75-83 with occasional 90's and a very brief spell in the 100's, but typically Portland summers are also our dry season, without humidity and therefore such high temperatures are tolerable.

The one note I will make, however, is that the sun is very intense in a dry climate. I don't know what it is, but in very sunny places on summer days, even when it is not quite 80 degrees, I feel like I am baking, like the sun is chasing me, and because I am not used to dry heat, I get very dehydrated.

The past few days, it has been in the upper 80's, which would be miserable in humid New Jersey, where I've always felt that once you hit a certain threshold temperature, like 86, it was all the same. 86, 96, and 106 in New Jersey are just hot, sticky, and uncomfortable. Typically, I wouldn't even think that the upper 80's were hot in Portland, not unless I was in a car oven or in a place with a lot of hot, black pavement and not a lot of trees.

I could not figure out why I have been so hot. I thought perhaps our apartment just has that oven effect like a car would have. Or that maybe it's because I wait for my bus in the afternoons on a bench in the middle of some highway interchanges, so there is a lot of blacktop and not a lot of shade.

I drink water constantly, but every day headaches have plagued me and I am starting to think it is from dehydration.

A friend inquired yesterday, was it just her? had she become intolerant to the heat? and my boyfriend responded, "It's been muggy, too."

Muggy! The quality that makes upper 80's heat unpleasant or even unbearable. Of course!

The three of us all said YEAH! IT HAS BEEN MUGGY. It was as though I had been refusing to acknowledge this because my little brain couldn't fathom that summer in Portland could be hot AND humid. My brain had previously been limited to the belief that in Portland, humidity only comes with the rain or with the morning marine clouds and can not coexist with the sun.

It has been the kind of hot in which no deodorant, no end of reapplications thereof, is at all effective. It is a great equalizer; we all stink. Rich, poor, homeless, jobless, well-dressed commuter whose ID tag, hanging from the same lanyard as their transit pass, reads, "Head of _______ Department." The city buses are traveling bins of B.O. rolling through the streets of Portland. It's okay, though, because everyone's noses have adapted. The extremely smelly people now blend into the wave of sweat stench hanging in the air above the city sidewalks and are for once indistinct from the crowd.

It is so hot that when I come home to find the air conditioner left on when my boyfriend went to work, I do not say, "Why does Handsome Man hate the Earth?" but instead, "That wonderful Handsome Man wanted me to come home to a cool bedroom."

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