New York is well-known as a place of sub-cultures, niche markets, intimate venues, exclusive restaurants, minority voters, and studio apartments. A square block may contain any number of discrete experiences that would delight a few and repulse many. In keeping with this, I’ve discovered that, similar to that fog-sodden inferior, San Francisco, New York has a very special micro-season. Like peonies or morel mushrooms, it comes only briefly, and to the lucky few.
The season is now, right now—when spring gives you a parting kiss on the cheek and a tickle under your ribs, just before summer walks through the door and bludgeons you. It’s not a season you can find just walking down the street. You have to climb stairs, open doors, and there you’ll find it hovering, a micro-climate of tropical warmth.
My new apartment in New York boasts such a climate. I live in a sixth floor walk up, a place of large windows and a pronounced greenhouse effect. I like the heat. I like to lean on the windowsill for a few minutes in the evening in my bra to consider the Manhattan skyline and my own shrewd plans as I cultivate a Tennessee Williams air and a “dew” of perspiration. On the street below people are clipping along in cardigans and shoes with socks, while far above them I’m enjoying an agreeable prickle of drama, borrowed from some louche latitude like Havana or Marrakesh. This unseasonal warmth exists only in apartments that belong to the very strong-willed, or the self-deluded, or the procrastinators. A people who live in their underpants with the windows wide open and agree with themselves every afternoon—air conditioners: who needs ’em?! Fat drug lords with equatorial safe houses, maybe. Pets locked in four door sedans. Not I.
I love the heat because I’m a Virginian, and I am of it. Virginia is a place of unique warmth, a primordial, carnal, wetland heat. It is unbearable if you try to resist it, so you musn’t. You must surrender to it, and speak slowly and move without hurry. You must become languid. I’m finding that this style of internal repose is uncommon in New York.
Of course, I did go ahead and buy an air conditioner yesterday. I am a Virginian, not a savage.
A.C. DeLashmutt is a Virginian living in New York. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's, The Washington Post, theNewerYork, Flash magazine, and elsewhere. She also writes plays. Follow her on Twitter @acdelashmutt.