Melting in NYC
18.07.2013 - 18.07.2013 37 °C
You know on the news sometimes you see how North America or Britain is in the midst of a heat wave and we laugh and think, suck it up, drink a Gatorade and stop dying of heat stoke you big, dumb babies?
Well, I'm here to tell you they have a point.
Obviously journeying through North America over the summer months I expected some sun. A few heat waves followed me around the country especially in the south in the more desert climes, but what hurt most was the humid and sticky soaring temps of a New York City heatwave. Now summer in the city usually means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage (Regina 2:1) but in this case it meant sweaty, sweaty, sweaty.
New York City on a hot, summer’s day is not ideal and quite frankly after enduring a week of it, I was ready to keel over and die myself. As the temperature soared so too did the scents of the city. The smell of hot garbage juice lingered in the air, hot, sticky air rose from the sewer systems and the subway, sweat dripped down your face and the scum of the city stuck to your sticky skin giving you a grim, scum layer.
It was summer in New York.
The mercury loitered around 36 c for the whole week. Our little apartment’s air conditioner worked over time providing us with some slightly cooler air. It was the kind of suffocating humidity my southern Australian self dislikes with great intensity. It makes my hair frizzy, my skin slimy and makes me question my eating habits and life choices because I assume people with a more skeletal frame generate less heat.
We would walk out to explore the great sights and sounds of the Big Apple each morning feeling fresh and healthy then start sweating by the corner.
Powering along the concrete footpaths trying to beat the heat, the sun reflecting up through the soles of your feet and filtering up to your ears. By the subway station we were a hot mess, hair frizzing by the second, shirt starting to stick to your wet fat rolls, and sweat running down your back.
The subway platform was even hotter, with even less air than the street and once you stopped walking the heat caught up and the sweat started more profusely, rolling down your scalp and tickling your hair. A train would zip passed and you would throw yourself over the dreaded yellow line to catch its gush of wind which came accompanied with metro fumes and gunk attaching itself on your sticky skin. Finally when you thought you might just end up in a wicked-witch-of-the-west style puddle on the ground the train would arrive and sweet, sweet air-conditioned relief. It froze your skin into shock and it was amazing. You watch the map with dread as you near your destination. Maybe a storm has come over and it’s snowing out?
With one last breath of cool, communal train air you exit and again the heat of the underground smacks you in the face as you move quickly for an exit. You fall onto the Manhattan streets air, air, air, sweet ai-ew, gross, gross, it’s hot air, and what the hell is that smell.
At street level the sun reflects off the concrete and sends the scent of dry urine against the shop door front wafting into the air.
It's summer in New York City.
And essentially you are in a concrete oven being basted in other people's juices.
One day we decided we need to use this weather to our advantage, no more sightseeing, no more hideous, sweaty photos with iconic landmarks, we were going to do this weather the Australian way, hit the pool and use this temperate Northern Hemisphere UV levels to our advantage and work on our tan.
We could have found the nearest public fountain or water feature which is a very popular thing to do in these parts but as we didn't want to catch some water-born chlamydia from an inner city park fountain we hit Google for “swimming pools near me”.
Our nearest pool was three blocks away. Perfect.
Off we trotted with our towel and flip flops. We didn't even bother with the formalities of wearing clothing on the streets. Out the door and along the hot Brooklyn pavement, the sun beating down on our heads we moved with swift speed. The distance was hazy with heat and oasis-type desire of a cool, resting place ahead. The three blocks seemed so far. I'm so hot, even the standard NYC puddle of mystery liquid pooling in the gutter suddenly looks refreshing.
I had memorised the map. We are walking fast to beat the sun and perhaps trick our body in to holding out for water. We cross over the avenue the opposite way than we usually go, where it turns out hipster Brooklyn turns to Brooklyn. We are heading towards a landscape of blocks of flats, passed some abandoned buildings and some garages servicing stolen cars.
We have the focus of athletes, step over rusty metal, around mystery mush, passed crowds of creepy men, one step, two step. We arrive at the gate, the glimmering blue shimmering delightfulness is visible between the cracks.
We are giddy with gleeful anticipation.
The girl manning the gate stops us in our tracks.
“You got yo lock”
“Eh” we say, wondering why this person is blocking our path.
I think she sensed this was our first time to this fine establishment and also may be suffering some level of heat stroke.
“For your locker?” she said.
“Oh, a lock, no”
It turns out a padlock is a condition of entry into the public pool so you can lock your possessions away.
No lock no entry was akin to the worst news you could ever receive at that point in time. Whether it was the sheer horror on our faces or the tears in our eyes, she sensed our desperation and sent us in the direction of a 99c store a block or two over. Shaking off this minor set back, with one last burst of energy we headed back into the harsh summer heat. Off we trotted, kicking up dirt with our flip flops on the somehow practically broken away pavements of the local streets. The dirt and grime was sticking to the backs of our legs as we walked through the ghetto.
We found the 99c store where we brought a $2.19 lock.
Don’t get me started on this country and their pricing system.
Success, we hightailed it passed some loiterers, in front of a car full of people pumping tunes with tinted windows, doing mainies I assume and back to the pool.
Obviously once we neared the entrance we were informed it was momentarily full. We waited patiently, trying not to make it evident we were willing to push a small family out of the way if necessary.
We found a suitable unbroken in to locker and locked up our belongings. Nothing is allowed in the pool area except your towel and your hot self. No phones, no books, no music not only is it so you don’t encourage paedophiles and perverts, stay too long in a free community pool with a limited capacity on a hot day but mostly I gather so you don’t get your belongings stolen while you are splashing about.
We took our bath towels and laid them out on the hot concrete. They were too short and we had to elevate our feet so they didn't burn on the concrete.
We planked over the ground covered in towel.
Without a moments hesitation I hit that cool, fresh, highly chlorinated water.
I splashed about. Cooled off and returned to my sister who was sun baking.
“Were you the only white person in the entire pool?”
I look back over to take it in with more distance
“Yes, yes I was”.
There wasn't an ironic moustache or any black rimmed glasses to be seen. We had left hipster Brooklyn for sure.
I didn't care if our worldly possessions were thieved from our locker with it's 99c lock. We had cooled off. We splashed about in Brooklyn’s finest neighbourhood pool, enjoying the joyful coolness and thought, New York, what are you on about, this heat is amazing.
We could stay forever, this is ama-
Then we got kicked out, session over. Everybody out.
We didn't care, ain't nothing gonna break my stride. We practically ran back to the apartment before we could fully dry to spend the rest of the day in front of the AC in our wet bathers in the hope of catching a chill. The next day we braved the heat of Manhattan again. Only one pool day is permitted when you have a strict sightseeing itinerary.
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