Six semesters in, and I’m only now spending a summer at MIT. I’d heard tales that unlike the brutally cruel winters of New England, Boston summers were actually fairly reasonable as far as climate was concerned. I can’t remember where I heard it, but I’ve decided that whoever told me so was clearly suffering from heat-induced pathological lying. Oh, sure, it’s not so bad anymore, but summer is summer no matter how you slice it, and summer can be downright uncomfortable on physical, emotional, and meteorological levels.
As a wise man once said, “Summer rains — you can never predict ‘em.” I once said that the rain in Boston tends to be more annoying drizzle than sky-opening, lightning-flashing, symbolic-for-redemption downpours. Clearly, I was speaking from insufficient experience. At least once, I found myself staring down a mobile wall of water that reminded me of something out of The Perfect Storm, only to have the birds chirping and the sun shining half an hour later — specifically, the half-hour that I spent swimming down Dorm Row to get home. Parts of Cambridge flooded, cars were submerged, and halfhearted attempts at large boats were made.
I would probably appreciate the rain more if it did more to ease the humidity that, together with the inevitable heat, makes for some very unpleasant sitting around. I’m lucky enough to be in an air-conditioned office all day and, until recently, a heavily air-conditioned theater all night, but once I get to my very un-climate-controlled room, all bets are off. I’ve spent night after night sitting in my room bare to the chest, wishing it were practical to take a cool shower every hour and following my oscillating fan as it shook its head disapprovingly at me. Those of my friends with air conditioning could have charged admission whenever I sought refuge in their quarters. Going to bed in what feels like a tropical jungle and having to peel myself off of my mattress in the morning? Not fun. On the bright side, I have discovered that two-liter bottles of ice water sitting in cereal bowls are not effective replacements for an air conditioner. They will, however, leave funny wet spots on your shirt when you pick them up to dump the water outside.
Okay, fine, I’m whining when I really don’t have a right to, considering that 2-digit temperatures would be a cold snap in other parts of the country, but the fact that I’m actually starting to miss staving off hypothermia by wearing my body weight in insulation is making me cranky.
More philosophically, summer seems to have its share of emotional heat waves, as well. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like the Boston-Cambridge metropolitan area is a separate universe from the rest of the world. I wonder if that’s how astronauts feel, when you still have contact with your home planet, but at a bit of a time delay and on a different wavelength than you’re used to. Having more friends around over the summer than expected helps, but with virtually no change of scenery and no family/significant other/high school friends/local wildlife to touch base with this summer as in previous summers, it’s hard not to get at least a little stir-crazy. It would be a stretch to say “homesick,” but not a big one.
Even when it meant complete liberation from obligations of any kind, summer was never my favorite season — free candy, amateur cosplay, and birthday presents ensured fall would have that distinction. And now that summer doesn’t even have sleepaway camp and day-long rerun marathons to its credit, it’s going to have to try much, much harder to earn any affection from — oh, wait. Summer film releases. There’s a solid start.