The Once-In-500-Year Heatwave

This year I felt like Boston University had the longest summer holiday, one that was consumed by, what weather folks have been describing as, the once-in-500-year heatwave. When I studied my undergraduate degree in Hainan – a subtropical/tropical island in China – I swore to myself that I would never be in anywhere equivalently hot. Coming to Boston I naively believed a city this north would reward my four-year crucible in Hainan with a temperature range that is pleasantly habitable, and mother nature just punched me in the face before mocking my ignorance on the caprice of weather.

I guess I could have gone to the university library for the sexiness that was air conditioning during the days when mother nature fancied making human jerky, but my then traveling roommate’s PS4 had a stronger hold of me. Soon later I learned that consoles will automatically shut themselves down if overheated, a displeasure that seldom happened in regular summers. There was a time when Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River came up on my phone and I just started wondering if he could come to Boston and be inspired to write a new song, Sweat Me an Ocean.

There was a second-hand store near my apartment that sold old air conditioners, among other things. Knowing that I’d be moving to an air-conditioned apartment in the coming September, I was profoundly reluctant to make a purchase at first. But my roommate, who was also being tormented by heat at the time somehow convinced me into buying one along with him. If you have never bought a pre-owned AC before and you are considering buying one, don’t. I was surprised by how much dirt I could shake out of the crappy thing as if its previous owner was a sand monger. The room smelled funny for the first couple of days after I turned on the AC – that sand monger must have been into some other weird stuff. Gone were the days when heat kept me awake at night, into the era of ridiculously loud noise produced by the odor and dirt container. I slept the rest of my summer holiday with ear plugs.

My road trip getaway to the west coast didn’t spare me from the intense heat either. Los Angeles and San Francisco were just as hot as Boston, if not hotter. Las Vegas’ night temperature even fluctuated between 95ºF and 105ºF. When we drove through Death Valley, the local temperature was a whopping 120ºF. It felt like we were constantly being exposed to a humongous blow dryer, on steroids. I’ve always thought the hottest place on earth would be somewhere in the Middle East or Africa, and I was wrong. At the information desk of Death Valley Visitor Center, I learned that the highest air temperature ever recorded in human history was 134ºF on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. The rest of the journey remained a continuous hydration exercise that never seemed to be enough.

Back in Boston, a new semester has begun for me and I am just glad it means fall is coming.

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