I’m so hot I can’t even appreciate it when my sweet husband responds to my complaint with a leering “I’ll say.” I know you people in the U.S. are suffering your own heat wave, and growing up in humid Nebraska, I’m no stranger to sweltering weather. But I have never grappled with heat as I have here in 100 degree, unairconditioned Berlin. It’s so hot that the ice cubes Aaron traces around my neck don’t even feel cold, and it’s so further hot that such ice cube shenanigans hold not a tinge of romance. When we make salad for dinner (and what else can we eat? We can’t handle anything approaching room temperature, which is at least 85) the best part is washing the lettuce leaves and then shaking them at each other so the droplets spatter cooly on our blazing bodies. We have frozen all our fruit and eat it slowly straight from the freezer. I, who thrive on light, have drawn the curtains with my own hands.
Worst of all is the utter hopelessness. The heat feels all the hotter because there is no escape. We’ve hardly found a single spot with air conditioning. (I bet the movie theatre is an exception and I plan to see whatever is showing over the next few days.) The museums are hot, the cafes are hot, the shops are hot. As we listlessly collect our groceries, we Berliners accumulate around the refrigerated sections. Suddenly the decision on yogurt flavors definitely requires long minutes of consideration.
Even at tae kwon do, we practice in our unairconditioned studio, and we keep the windows shut because the Germans think that wind blowing on sweaty skin will cause chills and lead to sickness. What would I give for chills?
I have been not-too-hot three times in the last two weeks. Once my tae kwon do friend invited me to Wannsee, a big lake south of Berlin, for her birthday swim. The water was warm, but refreshing.
Next, I visited the Badeschiff, a swimming pool plunked right into the middle of the Spree River. And I can tell you, in this weather you absolutely do need a pool in a river to insulate yourself from the heat.
Finally, we found air conditioning at the theatre where we attended the long-running Berlin musical Linie 1 with our friends Claudia and Justus. Here’s my favorite song: “Du sitzt mir gegenuber” (You sit across from me), about howwe’re all strangers on the subway wondering about each other’s lives but we never speak to each other. The choreography was also really cute.
And that’s it. Then we walked home through the steaming night to lie sleepless in our sheetless bed, windows flung wide to the breezeless night.