It’s not so much I’m hot, I’m just on fire. I can’t remember if I always felt this way. As a Miamian, you know that come summer you’ll be saying this to every person behind any counter you encounter, “It wasn’t this hot last year.” Well, we can go over the numbers. And cruelly enough, it was hot then as much as it is now. I was devastated to learn this as I’m sure you are to hear this. And yes, maybe my math isn’t the best, but I ask you, stick with me here. I’ve been issued a temporary creative license. And I intend to use it.
My earliest memory of what hot felt like in Miami revolves around walking from one side of a street to the other. That was all. My Mom, me, and my sister. There are no clouds. The sky was endlessly blue. The pavement almost sandy. The brick buildings a sharp reddish orange. I believe we were walking from the bank on 95th and 2nd to The Bennett Building. This, is Miami Shores. I was still young enough to be holding my mother’s hand.
Looking up, I remember my Mom’s hair was styled in such a way the R&B groups of the Fifties and Sixties would be proud. It was then I felt a heat behind my ears. Everything got brighter. If the light could’ve made a sound it’d say ‘scorch’.I don’t think I noticed what I’d come to know well as sweat was until then. Like in my life. It was disconcerting. Leaking. From everywhere. As if I was pierced with arrows from all sides and everything I was,was pouring out. We ran. My mom yelled, “Quickly, quickly!” as she lifted me up and over the curb. We gathered ourselves around a public bench.
I was safe. Not from some enthusiastic driver barreling through the three of us trying to beat the red light. No one, I repeat, no one is safe from a Miamian in transit. No, apparently, my sister pointed at me and mouthed things in slow motion when she saw I was halfway melting into the road. And to my Mom’s horror, she could see her son needed the shade of a rogue pedestrian oak tree, immediately. But even in the shade, the bright bricks of the building boasted with glee a certain kind of heat. Any unsuspecting person could rest their hand on the wall for a moment, pull away the next, and leave behind a seasonal burnt stain the shape of your hand.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak to the nostalgia I feel for these soaking, sizzling days. I learned soccer in this weather. I went to summer camp in this weather. I came out of amazing summer blockbuster movies in this weather. I’ve fallen in love in this weather. In 1980, the year I was born, the summer high was 90.5 degrees. Tomorrow, in 2023, the high will be 90 degrees. And to really blow your socks off (cuz this is not the weather for socks) in the state of Florida in 1931, Jefferson County reported a single thermometer reading 109 degrees.
Look. I’m definitely gonna stay inside more during this time of year. And take all the precautions one does. These are as follows (in no discernable order):
– Stay on heightened alert, if you are in a relationship this is NOT the time to start a fight. You are hot and irritable and arguments will spread like wildfire.
– This is the time for ice cream. Replace all snacks with ice cream.
– Blackout curtains.
– Don’t worry about your summer tan. Here in Miami, one needs only worry about their winter tan. The real Miami tan. Besides, you really only go out at night and no one can see your tan anyway.
– Try to only go out at night.
– My wife carries around this small blue ice pack, you know, the ones for those coolers. She brings it with her when she goes out during the day. To place on her face or belly when it’s scorching. She even sleeps with it sometimes. It’s kinda cute.
– Duh. Start getting your Halloween stuff out. Stare at the first pumpkin you see, and you’ll see, a mysterious breeze will pick up all around you. And the ghost of your lost at sea Uncle will rise from his watery grave and haunt you for a chance at your dry socks.
– Switch your coffees for your energy drinks. No, yeah, I know. I’m nothing without my colada intake too. I’m with you. Just keep the doors closed, top off the ACs in your cars, and kick off your shoes if you have to throw back them supercharged shots.
– Get your indoor activities in check. Wii. (Or insert any non-outdated video game) Scrabble. Gossiping. Binge a series without feeling shame.
– Try your extra best to be nice. We can go back to hating each other when the weather’s better.
– Leave some waters out for delivery people.
– FPL is loving this heat wave but if you’re tight on money don’t give up your AC first. Give up steak. Give up booze. Give up your friends. Just hands off your AC. I know people who don’t run their AC in the summer, only to pinch pennies, and they’re not pleasant to be around.
– Finally. I see people out on a run during the day. I don’t know what they’re trying to prove or who hurt them but don’t be those people. Either hit the treadmill or walk at night like me, a sane person. A native. Your all too-self aware, temporary guide to walk you through Summers in Miami.
Just remember, the opinions expressed in this article are those of a man who maybe made a C- in Science. My creative license, probably a forgery. I am no politician. I barely read. What I “am” am, is a Miami native who’s been through these things over 40 times in his life and lived to tell the tale. And to this day, whenever I step outside, during those days of September, August and July, I think of that time walking across that street with my Mom and my sister, and a feeling comes over me that I just can’t shake… sweat. It’s sweat. Sweat, sweat, sweat, and a whole lot more of it.