Saturday, July 30, 2005

Last Night

The hottest I’ve spent in the Czech Republic. Without AC and with the fan in C’s room, we opened the door to the balcony wide and hoped for some breeze. Will finally fell asleep but it was still too hot for me, so I spent most of the night perched on a garden chair, out on the balcony, counting the lights around the courtyard and trying to guess which would be the last to turn off. It turned out to be the small string of fairy lights in the far corner of the courtyard, not the reddish lava lamp in the penthouse with the terrace (my guess).

It was very quiet, last night. Because of the unusual heat, most people escaped to the countryside early yesterday, and at least two of the buildings in our square were completely silent. One – directly behind us – is the local courthouse, so it empties at 4 on Fridays and doesn’t stir until 7 on Mondays. Another, just next door, is empty of tenants, waiting to be sold. Only one older man lives there, the caretaker. I met him once when I went on a tour of the building. He reeked of sour sweat and alcohol, and spent the hour slowly shaking out keys to fit each door while trying to stay upright - showing off the meticulous intensity of a drunk in the middle of the day. At night his light goes off early and he never opens his windows. I can only imagine how hot his rooms must be.

Towards 3 a thunderstorm blew through, but it was just a little guy that had darted ahead of the high pressure system moving in from Germany sometime today. Afterwards it felt even hotter and reminded me of hot nights in Charleston when sitting outside feels as if you are swimming (and breathing) in the lightest of warm waters. When you have air conditioning to return to, that swimming sensation can be a magical experience. When that's the only air you've got, it can feel a little suffocating. Once the last light switched off in our courtyard, I came in and stood in front of the ice box, sipping a cold glass of apple juice and inhaling the freezer air. It was 4:30, and time to sleep.

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