Tuesday, October 30, 2012

After the Storm

My apartment is a hell-hole in the summer. The building shares walls on both sides with other buildings, and faces buildings of same or greater size.One block-long cliff wall of buildings faces another such cliff-wall across a narrow canyon. My apartment lies at the top of the five floors, directly under a tar roof (though to be fair, it was painted silver sometime in the last couple of years). It is impossible to get anything resembling cross-ventilation in the place; the layout is L-shaped, with two windows facing each other only at the narrowest point.  Half the windows face a small courtyard, the other half face the street. Any air that comes in open windows has been warmed nicely by the concrete and tarmac. The worst heat tends to come around 5pm, after the entire city has spent the day soaking up sunshine. Fans do their best to move the sluggish, smelly, super-heated air around, but the idea that this makes things cooler is laughable. I'm conflicted about using air conditioners, but I do, figuring that they will allow me to get at least some sleep during the hottest months. I don't handle heat well, it's true. Anything over 80 degrees with any moisture in the air makes me miserable, verging on suicidal. Or homicidal, if there's any noise in the street, as there always is, because none of these buildings are inhabitable in the heat. A hell-hole, I say.

But then, well, a big storm comes along and I realize how well this whole block withstands them.  It seems it was designed for just that purpose. In the past my ceiling would leak whenever there was the slightest bit of rainfall, but that seems finally to have been remedied. In bad weather the lack of open walls means limited exposure to the elements. Severe winds are effectively blocked or channeled along the east-west street. I don't know why exactly we've been lucky with the power and water for both Sandy and Irene, since obviously the substations are not in this building, or even on this block, but whatever the reason, we didn't lose anything, not even internet, last night or last year. We're very lucky.

So while I'm not about to stop complaining about summers, I'm taking stock of my present situation, and appreciating this place for what it does best. I'm off to investigate the neighborhood now, and see if my neighbors need any help.