It is time for my mandatory annual Florida summer weather rant. I admit it’s a bit early, as summer officially started only a few weeks ago. However, summer did not get the memo in central Florida. Summer weather started early this year and visited our home in a particularly diabolical way.
It’s kind of ironic. Just the other day, I mentioned to Max that I thought I had finally come to terms with summer in Florida. After three summers in the Land-Where-You-Drink-The-Air, you would think I would have realized resistance is futile before now. I am a slow learner. I think the heat and humidity short circuits the synopses in my brain, impairing my ability to process information.
When we spent our first summer in Florida, we were concerned about protecting the nation’s resources. Less altruistically, we were also concerned about the electric bill. We ran the air conditioner only when the temperature in the house hit 84 degrees and we typically only brought it down to about 79 degrees. Why those numbers? I have no idea. The next summer, I quietly reset the threshold to 80 degrees and would let the air conditioning run until we hit 74 degrees.
This year, Max apparently realized that I am a much nicer person with whom to live when the temperature is regularly below the boiling point. He started turning the air conditioner on at 77 degrees. I found myself able to sit comfortably watching television in shorts and a tank top. Max put on a jacket and brought a blanket out from the bedroom. I don’t know which of us has a faultier internal thermostat. The bottom line is that he can keep putting clothes on, but there comes a point when there is nothing left for me to take off…. And nobody wants me to reach that point.
So, this year, when the temperatures climbed, the humidity soaked through the sky, and the thunderwowers surged, I felt slightly less tetchy than in past summers. We had a very active month of May, filled with exciting events, including a trip to Texas to visit a cherished friend, the publication of my book (which you can order at https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076 hint, hint, nudge, nudge), and a visit from another cherished friend for my launch party. By the time late May rolled around, and summer with it (no, don’t consult a calendar…. Believe me, summer started in late May this year!), I felt content to stick close to home in my comfortably cool house.
Then, all that changed. The air conditioner died.
Max and I were watching television in the midst of a crackling storm. There was wind, thunder, lightning, and enough rain to drown the cats and dogs. All of a sudden, we heard a loud crack. At first, we figured the noise was thunder, but it sounded different enough that we both noticed it. The electricity went off for a second or two but came back on even before the clocks had time to stall. We continued watching television until it was time for bed. We noticed the house seemed a little warm and checked the thermostat. The temperature was higher than it was before we started watching TV, even though we could hear the whirring of the air conditioner fan. We soon realized that the fan in the garage was still going, but the air conditioner unit outside was not.
I decided this catastrophe must have had something to do with the storm or a power surge when the electricity restarted. I went googling around to figure out possible remedies. Max spent many years working as a manager and dispatcher for a company that worked on commercial heating and cooling systems. He is only marginally better than I am at home repairs, but he is very good at knowing what questions to ask and diagnosing probable issues. Max believed that the cracking noise we heard was the death rattle of the air conditioner compressor. I, of course, gave a lot of weight to his opinion because of his experience. On the other hand, Max is also a bit of a fatalist and tends to imagine the worst case scenario in every case. In my heart of hearts, I knew that there was at least a 75% chance that Max was correct and the compressor was deceased. However, I really tried to live in the other 25% of my brain- the part that was in denial.
The next morning, I went outside to look at the air conditioning unit. I saw no charring or melting. I tried a few tricks that I learned in my googling, to no avail. Max also looked at the equipment and found nothing that would explain its sudden demise. The 25% denial part of my brain in which I was living started to get more claustrophobic.
Of course, when the air conditioning people came to look at the unit, they announced that the compressor in our 12-year-old air conditioner was grounded (which I guess means “should be six feet under ground”). We could fix it for $2000 or replace the whole system for $5700. I opted to replace the system, which I believe was the right financial decision. However, opting for replacement meant that we had to wait for reinvigorated air conditioning for nine days.
So much for coming to terms with Florida summer. I “slept” with two fans blowing on my bed. I actually forgot what it felt like to be not sweaty. I rarely turned on the hot water in the shower. I changed clothes several times a day. We went to the beach so I could remember what it felt like to breathe. I fell asleep in a movie theater, lulled into slumber by the novelty of air conditioning and recliner seats. I actually enjoyed going to jury duty because the temperature in the jury assembly room was set below “par-boil.”
I think it is remarkable that I did not lose my mind during those nine days. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Leaving mine to soak in the pot of boiling water that was my home surely wasn’t good for it. I think surviving this challenge qualifies me for honorary native Floridian status.
Now that we have a whole new air conditioning system, our house is more consistently comfortable and energy efficient. It is kind of amazing how much better the new one is performing. It is set at 75 degrees. When we go out, we turn it off and the temperature does rise…. because it is freakin’ Florida and it is summer…but we are comfortable very soon after flipping the thermoset back to “cool.” With the old system, once the house was warm it was probably going to stay warm until October.
It is still early days to declare victory over my summerwhine blues. There is plenty of time for me to worry about another hurricane. There is plenty of time for me to go stir-crazy because thunderstorms and torrential rain make it perilous to undertake leisure outings. There is plenty of time for me to dissolve into a pile of goo while out doing errands. There is plenty of time for my joints to stiffen from the humidity and inactivity necessitated by summer heat lethargy.
Still, for right now, I’m okay with summer. Today, I am blissfully grateful because the only thing that is overheated in my house is my credit card from paying for the new air conditioner!
What do you like best and worst about summer? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076