Well, folks, the time is once again upon us where heat rules mind, flesh, and future. It cooks your brain into a soup that can only muster a panted, “It’s so hot,” following anything from lunch with friends, a trip to the grocery store, taking the trash out, or simply looking out a window you’re too afraid to open while you fan yourself in the hopes that hot air in motion will do something, anything more than hot air that’s stagnant.

It’s a heat so cruel that even swimming is miserable. The pools are overrun and the water is too hot to cool you anyway. A mere five minutes of direct exposure to the hellacious ball of fire in the sky has you soaked through your clothes, which are now sticking to you as you pray for solitude so you can strip naked and be touched by nothing except the hopefully chilly air of the fan you place yourself two inches away from. The only hours that being outside feels sort of OK are before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m, but even this is not guaranteed. There is reprieve also offered in pre- and post-thunderstorm landscape, though this is when the mosquitos are worst, so with it comes a separate set of outdoor worries. There is no winning—not for a good, long while.

Every minute spent not indoors is a seed waiting to bloom into irritation, and eventually rage, and its aim is indiscriminate. Hell hath no fury like any random person standing outside in the middle of July. The potential for frustration, arguments, and unfortunately violence looms in this heat, but I believe in our collective power to not tear each other apart in the process. The person who cut you off in traffic did not crank the sun up to a level that makes you want to peel your skin off. Chances are they’re rushing home to get to their air conditioning because they, too, can’t take another second of it. The tone that someone took with you is almost certainly not personal. They are probably just wet and sticky, and their thighs are probably chafing too.

We do not have to succumb to the whims of the sun. We are strong, we are caring, and this will end.

Patience is key in these coming months. I am no authority on patience, as someone who is notorious for letting all the little things get under my skin. But is life not just a series of challenges, forcing our hand and shepherding us into new skill sets previously thought beyond us? This is something I’d like us to all try together: a group project, for accountability purposes.

Remember: Everyone else is just as miserable as you are, if not more so, and if we’re all trying to make each other a bit less miserable, we become less miserable in the process. If you have a car, buy a 30-pack of water and keep it in there to hand out. Drink more water than seems necessary—it’s probably not enough. Check that your friends and neighbors have adequate AC, and buddy up if they don’t. And when you feel the anger bubbling up, take a beat to literally and figuratively cool off. This heat is no solo endeavor, and we can, we must, team up against the sun. —Marisa Clogher

illustration by Laura Frizzell 

July 2024 cover illustration by L. Steve Williams

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