brian

It’s getting hot, man.

Sauna hot. Oven hot. Heat so hot it smothers you, pushes you down, keeps you from leaving the house because it’s just so damn hot.

I was just out there in it, and I can tell you it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Yes, it’s North Carolina — it’s supposed to be hot. Always been hot in that long stretch of summer that hits after the Fourth of July. Hot in the morning. Hot at night. Hot all day.

I drive a black car, with a black interior; it’s so hot when I climb into the thing that it feels like an expensive spa treatment.

Because also, I kind of like it. I can handle the heat.

I lived for more than 10 years in Louisiana, where on hot July days a walk through the French Quarter can feel like swimming in a steaming tray of water. The heat makes your shirt stick to your back and curls up your hair. It activates every sweat gland in your body until the stuff runs in invisible rivulets down to your socks. You need a damn good reason to go out in heat like that. And unless you have access to swimming pool, a beach house or reliable air-conditioning, there’s little respite from it.

There are techniques for surviving the deep heat: Drink lots of water, especially if you’re drinking drinking. Find the shady side of the street. Wear white clothes to take some of the edge off the sun. A hat can help.

One summer it got so hot I could barely stand it. And then, all of a sudden, I could.

It was mostly a matter of accepting the heat, working within its parameters, respecting its ability to shut you down while still waging slow, steady war against it.

The heat will change you. It’s supposed to change you. Heat melts candles, softens asphalt. Heat is what turns a bag of dried grains into a bowl of rice.

Because heat is a catalyst. The heat promotes growth. And you can hide from it poolside or in air-conditioned rooms. But the rest of us are out here in the hot, hot heat, letting it work its magic upon us.

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