The Peace Corps brought us to some resort area for a few days and let us stay in a nice hotel for a few days while we completed a conference. (Your tax dollars at work.) The hotel was heated, and well heated at that.
Waking up this morning in my own bed I’m impressed at how quickly one can forget how terrible it is waking up in a completely freezing cold room, under a mass of blankets that is more aptly counted in pounds rather than in number. I guess it only took a few days to once again be surprised at the strep like feeling in my throat as the last embers of heat from my heater die, and the manageable (relatively speaking) heat of the evenings in my house reach equilibrium with the freezing cold surroundings. Struggling through intakes and exhalations of air (which feels like pushing and pulling a cactus in and out of one’s throat) the other senses begin taking hold also. The piercing of the alarm clock is usually next. Not a big deal… until you realize that the motion of reaching to calm its angry exhortations entails not only an exposure of naked flesh to the outside climate, but more importantly a breach of that sanctuary of warmth (again relatively speaking) beneath the blankets that has been mercifully built up throughout the night. But alas it must be done. The motion inevitably does produce the undesirable outcome and gives me a taste of what’s in store when I finally do muster the vigor to the dash from my bed across the room to where I foolishly left my robe (now freezing cold I might add) the night before. The dash is a thing of beauty, as the human body shows itself an impressive thing while faced with adversity and impending death. The blind sliding of feet over the frozen concrete floor in search of slippers while rubbing furiously at ones upper body (to produce some modicum of heat) leading to a seamless grabbing and putting on of the robe (that first shock of freezing fabric is horrifying) and onwards towards the heater. Lighting the heater is an art in and of itself, but in these conditions I am usually blessed with a certain focus and steely-eyed determination that to the outside observer would appear to be panic, but is truly just the body working in concert with the mind doing all it can to facilitate survival. The outside observer would be justifiably confused upon seeing me with my shivering body wrapped around the heater in a bear hug, literally gripping it for dear life. It usually takes 20 minutes or so before the steel around the life preserving goodness being produced inside the heater starts to actually radiate itself to the outside world. It is an agonizing length of time, but man is it a sweet pay off. Appreciation for things of this nature is of a relative nature and with my desired body heat sitting well above the frigidity of the outside room this is a sweet moment in my morning. As my body takes on more heat and my robe becomes toasty and insulating I am able to reach up to start boiling a kettle of water for that thing that I previously felt was “the” life-sustaining necessity during my mornings in America. Coffee. I guess it’s kinda neat to think of how much more basic my life has become. There’s something calming about this greater degree of simplicity. I just wish there was a warmer way to achieve it.
PS... Paul Thorne-Keziah's mother (if you're still reading this blog) THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE BOOK!!! I didn't have a chance to pack it when I came and since its arrival in country have re-read it numerous times. It was very thoughtful of you.