When I walked out the air was thick and still like an oven you thought you turned off but that hit you with an unexpected heat when you opened it. A spring none of
us thought possible returned to the summer we knew was coming. Can this be the same place I grew up in? Was it always this way. My mind says no, but that’s just the immediacy of it. Maybe I’m misremembering.
I remember being 16 and my best friend Chuck had a Jeep CJ 5. Not the cooler bigger CJ-7 Renegade that Daisy Duke drove. His was the one that was on 60 Minutes because they rolled over like a baby on the rug. Drive it once and you knew why. The steering had what seemed like six inches of give in both directions so that you felt like you were teeter totttering back and forth just to keep it between the lines. Somehow we kept it upright despite our best efforts.
I remember riding in the Jeep up and down the Mississippi Coast and I never remember being hot, even though it may have had only a bikini top on it and it had to be blazing.
I remember nights at Kelly Ave. where we stacked pallets 8 high, soaked em in gas and let em burn to the sand, adding an inferno to our Milwaukee’s Best and Miller Lite’s (the official beer of Gulfport, Ms to this day) and I don’t remember sweating through my shirt in 10 mins as the Church and the Smithereens blared from someone’s car up on the sea wall.
I remember the smell of hot pine trees and the woods near my house. Pine trees are always my memory of Mississippi heat. Pungent and fresh and thick as the air. They remind me of poverty as well as affluence, the smell of Long Beach, and Wolf river and Cat Island. It feels like you could sail past that spit of jack pine sand and still get a whiff.
I never remember drinking much water other than out of the hose. A lot of soft drinks and Country Time lemonade but nobody was “hydrating”. If we didn’t carry along a water bottle everywhere, were we even hot? I can’t see how.
At 4:39 this morning it feels different than any of those times. Maybe the heat of my youth always carried an easy gulf breeze, cutting through the thick. Maybe we forget things if we don’t talk about the details incessantly. Maybe the world is slowly boiling like a giant cosmic egg that we certainly will overdo and not be able to peel the shell off of. Maybe the heat is telling me to finally notice. To do something for the earth. To make some sort of change so it can go on forever.
Maybe it’s just hotter.