Monday, March 12, 2007

Hallucinatory Heat

I'm so nervous about the approach of summer. Nervous is too light a word; in truth, I'm terrified. This coming summer I will have not one but two children to shepherd through the ENDLESS days of Houston's summer while trying to mitigate the stifling heat, humidity, the ravenous mosquitoes. What in the world are we going to do?

I remember in the old days (around 1993), I would deal with the Houston summer by pretending that I lived in Vietnam. I'd do this in a couple of ways: first, by lying in bed all afternoon in my green silk slip, smoking cigarettes, perspiring and staring languorously at the circling ceiling fan. I imagined I was a character in a Marguerite Duras novel. Or something. The metallic drone of cicadas created the monotonous soundtrack to my performance for myself. Outside, bamboo, birds of paradise and elephant ears grew a screen against my window, like a Henri Rousseau painting.

When I went outside (no longer in a slip, but protected by loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing), I'd let my eyes blur so as not to see the American cars and business signs; I could scramble any English I heard into something that sounded in my head like nonsense. By tricking myself into thinking I was living in an exotic foreign country, I could appreciate the heat, actually embrace it. When I remembered that the heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes composed my real life, I crumpled under the oppression of reality.

When that happened, my imagination moved me to Paris.

*I found Rousseau's painting "Exotic Landscape" on images/rousseau1.jpg

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