It's hot down here. I don't bother to look at the temperature because it would go to my head and I'd stay indoors all day. I know it's over 100°F because even as I ride at 45mph, the air warms my skin. The effect is like that of a convection oven. It's almost the opposite of wind-chill. Unfortunately the term "windburn" describes a phenomenon that is unrelated to heat. What can we call this then?
Stoneleigh at Gracy Farms is where I have lived for almost two years. Today I walked into the leasing office and had the following exchange:
Manager: How can I help you?
Me: I have a busted flapper.
Manager: Which one?
Me: In the master.
Manager: Okay, I'll put in a work order. 816, right?
Me: Yup. Thanks!
Now that's good service. Not only did she instantly know what I meant by "a busted flapper," she knew my apartment number. I can't believe how cheap the rent is, too. If I had a roommate paying half of it I would be rich indeed.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to work here. The job is everything I could ask for and more. Your offer is an act of pure generosity. There is just one thing I must inspect before I can commit myself into your service. May I see your air handling equipment?
What? Ducts that were designed to impede cleaning without mitigating the necessity–colonies of unidentified streptococci so large as to be visible on the vents–a palpable hardness to the settling gases they expel–motors that fling shreds of their own wear and tear into the air they move–electric fields whose effects on the air have been neither theorized nor tested–filters that provide breeding grounds for unseen colonies of bacteria who rejoice at the strong winds for delivering nourishment in abundance and whisking away offspring to their hopeful destinies in the respiratory tracts of people–people upon people upon people, packed into spaces with no access to the purifying light of the sun–a death camp for the willing.
You want me to work here? You want me, who was born from flesh into air and has left it only briefly to dive or be buried in sand at the beach, who drinks it every moment, who slips into soliloquy on tasting a rare whiff from a wet pine grove, who dreams of flight as a fish dreams of swimming, who desires fast travel only for the solid sensation of wind against body, who gapes and yawns for the lack of it, who would kill rather than suffocate, to spend a third part of my life immersed in this?
[This is the first in what I expect to be a series of articles about the most important element of my being.]
Last night I had occasion to turn on the air conditioner. The nature of the occasion was more social than thermal: friends were gathering for a small party and I preferred to contain all of the airborne effects so as not to annoy the neighbors while maintaining a lively and comfortable atmosphere. A/C it would have to be.
I hardly mind a little bit of air conditioning now and then. The accompanying sneezes and runny nose matter less to me than my general unease in artificial atmosphere and the unnatural rumble of air handling equipment, and these things hardly have time to encroach upon my joie de vivre before such a gathering disperses into the night.
When I returned home from an hour of taxi driving, I opened the front door and collided with a wall of stale, cool air. It was my fault for not allowing the atmosphere to purge during my absence, I thought as I found something soft to sneeze into. It would continue to be my fault as I lazily fell into bed without opening a window or turning off the air conditioner.
Hours later, unable to sleep, I remembered what had made me so uncomfortable when I walked through the door. Flinging away bedclothes, I stormed to the thermostat and killed the rumbling monster in my ceiling, then opened every window in the apartment. When I felt the warm, fresh air tumble in, I knew it was time to sleep.
Slowly entering my consciousness over the course of the first half of this year, my distaste for air conditioning has taken firm root where I can see it. Years of evidence went by the boards as I ignored my own experience: endurance in nature had never attended the onset of illness in me but this was too deep a revelation. I would not see the truth without walking around it a few times, as a dog circles before settling on the ground.
Sears was discounting 10% off almost everything in the store for Sears Card holders, so I went and got the vacuum cleaner I've had my eye on. I saved $50 and turned down the offer for a service contract. With tax, it was less expensive than any other place I'd looked, online or local.
This purchase has grown more urgent every day since my vacuum-owning roommates moved out. Recently I took care of a friend's dog for a few days, an adventure that left my apartment looking like what a dog would look like from the inside if you turned it inside-out and filled it with air and furniture.
The vacuum is a Dyson DC15, the yellow and grey model that rides on a ball for maximum maneuverability. It's one of those bagless vacuums that they say doesn't lose suction when it fills up. I ran this thing over every inch of carpet in my aparment, emptying the canister several times. To confess the truth, in my zeal to clean I failed to empty the canister before breaching the "full" mark each time; it didn't occur to me that it would fill up so fast. That's a good sign.
There were many good signs. Things came out of the carpet that I never knew existed. Once when I was emptying the canister, the holy grail fell out. There's a spot in the corner where the vacuum seems to work much harder; I'm pretty sure it'll eventually pull up the ark of the covenant. I heard something jingling around in the canister and when I turned off the motor, I heard God exclaim, "Hey, you found my keys!"
All kidding aside, I am ecstatic about this vacuum. I took special care of it after the hard work it did today. After I got its canister washed out and its seals wiped clean and all of the hair and carpet fiber pulled from its brush bar, I am too proud of this machine to shove it into a dark closet. I must nurture my new appliance. Together, my Dyson and I will conquer the world!