My great love, A.C.

I love A.C. I just do. A.C. is my best friend.

I didn’t know A.C. growing up. I wish A.C. would have come into my life earlier, but if that had been the case, I probably wouldn’t have such a level of appreciation.

Ah, yes, A.C., you bring comfort to me now after so many years of yearning.

Of course, A.C. is Air Conditioning.

Growing up, we didn’t have air conditioning. That’s just the way it was. No A.C. We lived in this hot tin can in the middle of nowhere . . . and for the first decade with very little shade. I remember our promised reward as we carried buckets of water to all the little trees that had been started in our yard. If we kept watering them, they’d someday be big enough to cool down the house, we were told.

I guess we were supposed to grow accustomed to being constantly hot and sweaty. After all, the grandparents had never had air conditioning and they seemed to be physically fine (although extremely cranky bordering on mean).

My dad said it would make us tougher, as he sat in just a pair of shorts with a cold beer against his chest.

My mother knew it was hot . . . but she tried to be creative with the dilemma. She showed us how to make colorful fans from paper plates and promised that if we took baths before bed we’d sleep better (killing two birds with one stone).

I suppose all that worked, to some extent, but the mornings were the worst. My bedroom was on the east side of the house with absolutely no shield from the warming sun. Once it got light out, the siding began to sizzle and inside, the incessant sweating started.

We didn’t have to get up until 9 a.m. during the summer (that was the scheduled time for dealing with the killer roosters). But to actually lie in bed that long was impossible.

I lived on a dairy farm and there were a whole bunch of kids in my family. That means two very different but specific things: 1) there are going to be lots of flies; and 2) many kids mean many accidental holes in the window screens. Add those factors to the heat and it’s a lethal combination.

I remember lying in bed, unable to sleep because yes, I was excruciatingly hot and yes, I had to cover my little sweat-soaked body with a sheet because the flies were also awake. Oftentimes, it was just easier to get up.

We spent a lot of time under the garden hose, during those long-ago summers, and I suppose that helped us kids bond. We’d weed the garden with the sprinkler on us and ate many a meal at the picnic table in the yard because the house had absorbed so much heat during the day. Doing livestock chores in the evenings wasn’t a big deal because it was actually cooler than trying to be in that house.

It would get so hot that the kids who had summer birthdays actually received oscillating fans as gifts . . . and they were excited! It was better than a toy. Not only was it a source of comfort during those long, hot nights, it was also leverage to get whatever they wanted as their siblings made deals in an effort to borrow them. Those fans were like contraband in prison.

One benefit about living in an oven is that we had a tendency to be very tan. We wore as little clothes as possible at all times and were outside as much as could be tolerated.

And every night, we’d say our prayers, each taking a turn to thank God for something and ask Him for something. We asked for rain on Dad’s corn and for Mom’s pregnant ankles to stop swelling. But I’ll admit, I remember mentioning to the Big Guy on numerous occasions that all I really wanted was A.C.

Now, so many years later, I’m thrilled that A.C. is a consistent part of my life and God eventually answered my prayers. I’d like to say that growing up without it made me tougher, but really, it just made me more grateful.

Every time I hear the unit kick in and feel the sweet rush of cool air move across the room, I’m blissful.

I will never take it for granted. Yes, I will be over-dramatic in my silly declaration. I will always cherish my love for A.C.



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