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July 22, 2006


It's half-past nine on a Saturday night and the digiital gauge outside says it's one hundred and one degrees. From my vantage point on the patio I can see a big patch of sky oveer my neighbor's rooftop, there must be clouds because the ambient light from the city is glowing purple, like it wants to escape but can't. When we were driving out here, moving to California, my parents and I stopped for the night in a tiny town on the outskirts of New Mexico and the sky was so huge you half wondered if you were lost even to yourself. I was scared of that much sky, maybe that's why I like the city. We have light pollution, but it feels harder to get lost.

I know I should be indoors where the air conditioning is, but I need to hear the crickets and traffic so I don't feel like a shut-in.

The sky is flashing with heat lightening, it lights up the rooftops and makes the hair on your arms stand up. I hate dry lightening, it feels creepy and then of course it's fire season. You can feel the electricity in the air but it won't rain, and my neighbor came by when I was out front, turning on the sprinklers, she asked me if I thought we were going to have an earthquake.

"I can't tell," I said.
"You're freaking me out," I wanted to say. But of course I didn't.

Her rooftop is the one I can see, lit up from time to time by the sky. When I was seven years old, a distant cousin and her husband took me to a tent revival in West Texas. You may think all Southern tent revivals are the same, but this one was held on a hot July weekend during a drought year, and the sky was crawling with streaks of heat lightening, no rain in sight. We were told to pray for rain, and I was seven and I prayed diligently. Later we ate baked beans and ribs at a long table and I got fussed at for getting barbecue sauce on my dress and it never did rain. Don't know why I'm remembering that now.

I turned on the sprinklers out back thinking it might make the patio cooler but all it did was make the night air thick and muggy. I like the way summer makes you feel slower and less hurried, it's a good time to remember things without giving them too much weight. You can't stand the touch of a sheet on your skin because it's so hot, and in that same way you never feel quite so lonely in the summertime, don't need a leg touching yours, don't feel terrible alone if it's just you and crickets and traffic.


Posted by laurie at July 22, 2006 9:59 PM