This piece originally appeared in Afterglobe Vol 2.
The eternal summer of living on the equator. The light dawning and fading at the same time every day, up at 7 a.m., down at 7 p.m. Always the same unrelenting heat, always the same stifling humidity, the sweat beads convening on lips, wetting armpits of shirts, sliding down underneath the crease where breasts meet ribs. A city in the heat is constantly on—-not even the snow can reach it to shut it down. In the heat, everything is buzzing: the bugs, the aircon units, the frying pavement, the overheating cars. And that buzzing, the buzzing digs its way into your head and your vibrations start keeping time with that restlessness—always rushing, panting, sweating, fanning, thirsting—always something. It’s like living with a nervous habit that never desists, it’s like having an itch you can’t scratch, it’s like having a stomach gnawing with hunger. It’s never just still. It’s never just quiet.
And you get that frantic feeling when you think of returning to a place where sometimes the light dies at 4 p.m.—especially if you know it and know it well, know the dip and ebb of the seasons, can recognize the subtle warning signs of change, the way the light softens and fills with shadows when fall is approaching, the way the plants become suppler when spring closes in. That rush in your stomach—-it’s the idea of stillness.
You long to rush to your car from a shopping mall where red, green, blue, and yellow Christmas lights reflect in the dark of the windows, crunch footprints into the frosted ground, blow warm wet plumes of breath into cupped hands before grasping a freezing steering wheel, feel the slight slip of the tires when you break without pumping, return home and see the holiday candlelight dance on the walls, look out over a snowy field and see the white of the moon reflected as bright as daylight. That stillness—-surely nothing moves in that field. And certainly, nothing makes a noise—-that quietness. Of course, nothing is more silent than the prairie under the freeze of winter.
You need a hiatus. The brain is tired of all that buzzing, it’s longing for some quiet. You need the cold to enter your bones and freeze your veins; all the heat needs to be bled from every limb, every hair, and every artery. The thirst of constant heat needs to be quenched with hot chocolate and apple cider. Your brain is tired of so much bright light, all that sun, all the time, never setting at 4 p.m. to just allow some things to be in the dark. That cold dark quiet is looming in your brain, it’s rushing in your tummy. It’s almost frightening to think about all that darkness—it’s quite sinister really. But you must get back there. You need hibernation. You must lose a bit of yourself under the covers, under a sweater, under the silence, under the moonlight, under the stillness.
Later you can return, with your hand to your brow to shield the rays, to the land of heat much cooler and calmer than when you left, until slowly that sun starts to boil your insides again until they’re evaporating out of every gland.
But at least it won’t be cold.