Lying in bed, by an open window, and listen."No air-conditioning, how can you sleep?" my fiend asks, horrified. I've just revealed that my family had decided to shut the air-conditioner off and trim our electric bill.
“Nobody opens a window,day or night,”warns another friend, whose windows have been painted shut for a decade.“This is the 1990s.It's not safe.”
On its first night of our cost-cutting adventure, it's only eighty-five degrees. We're not going to suffer, but the three kids grumble anyway. They've grown up in 72-degree comfort,insulated from the world outside.
“How do you open these windows?” my husband asks.Jiggling the metal tabs, he finally releases one. A potpourri of bug bodies decorates the sill. As we spring the windows one by one, the night noises howl outside and in.
"It's too hot to sleep." my thirteen-year-old daught moans. "I'm about to die from this heat!" her brother hollers down the hall. "Just try it tonight." I tell them. In truth, I'm too tired to argue for long. My face is sweaty, but I lie quietly, listening to the criket choirs outside. That remind me of childhood. The neighbor's dog howls.Probably a trespassing squirrel.It's been years since I've taken the time to really listen to the night.
I think about my grandma, who lived to ninety-two and still supervised my mom's garden until just few weeks before she died. And then I'm back there in her house in the summer heat of my child hood. I moved my pillow to the foot of grandma's bed and angled my face toward the open window. I flipped the pillow, hunting for the cooller side.
Grandma sees me thrashing, "if you just watch for the breeze," she says, "you'll cool off and fall asleep." She cranks up the Vanetian Blinds. I stare at the filmy white curtain, willing it to flutter. Lying still and waiting, I suddenly notice that life outside the window, the bug chorus. Neighbours, porch-sitting late, speaking in hazy words with sanded edges that soothe me.
"Mom, did you hear that?" my seven-year-old blurts, "I think it was an owl family."
"Probably." I tell him, "Just keep listening!"
Without the droning air-conditioner, the house is oddly peaceful, and the unfiltered noise seems close enough to touch. I hope I'm awake tonight that the first breeze sneaks in.
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