My New Normal
We have all seen them. You know, the mechanic with permanently stained arms, black grease under his fingernails, grease smears on his face. He is not ashamed of himself, this is his normal.
The same goes for the horse professional. She has a little poop on her boots, a slight scent of ammonia from the stall she cleaned this morning. She has horse hair on her bum and sweaty horse hair on her calves. This is her normal and she is darn proud of it.
With the thermometer edging into the upper 90s and the heat index well over 100, I am afraid I have a new normal.
I overheard a sweet little old lady proclaim, “I am not leaving my air conditioning tomorrow, I won’t even get dressed … it’s going to be over a hundred!” But I am simply not an inside person. I would go insane even if I could stay home hiding from the heat all day.
Besides, I haven’t the luxury. I have errands to run and since it takes my car’s air conditioner a good 15 minutes to warm up before it starts cooling us down, I often opt not to even turn it on. So I drive with the windows open, blowing yesterday’s napkin around the interior of my car and last week’s dog hair in my face. I embrace the sensation of the breeze not cooling me but instead preventing the sweat from dripping down my face. Until I come to a stoplight, and the dripping commences.
And I refuse to let the heat and humidity get in the way of my morning run or bike ride despite the lack of actual oxygen in the air due to the moisture content. It isn’t apparent how hot I am until I stop moving and sweat drips from my shorts into a puddle on the ground and it sprays from my arms with every move I make. I know not to sit down, just go straight to the shower. Sitting is just plain messy.
So I find myself with a constant layer of sticky sweat over my body. I don’t even bother to wipe my sweat mustache because I know my arm is just as sweaty and it will only extend the mustache rather than remove it.
I quit trying to cross my legs while I sit on the front porch. When I cross my right leg over my left knee it just slides right off … pointless. My clothes are always slightly damp and my hair, well, I don’t want to talk about my hair. It just goes up into a knot in back of my head and I try to forget it’s there. My new normal has no room for style.
Am I ashamed? Well, it depends. When I am among the company of my kids or husband the answer is no. They are almost as sweaty as me; especially my son, who it seems inherited my overactive sweat glands. But as I leave the thickness of the outside air and enter the freezing air of a store or restaurant, and the sweat suddenly evaporates, leaving a shiny crystalline layer on my skin and my clothes start to dry and salt forms on my upper lip and I start to shiver visibly … I might feel a little ashamed.
It wouldn’t be so bad, but it seems that the other patrons are from another planet, possibly a planet with outdoor air conditioning. Their hair is all fancy and hanging down, near their face like it doesn’t bother them. They have pants on. They are wearing jewelry and even make-up. … Really? I just feel a little out of sorts, like an intruder … like an alien visitor to their planet.
But this is my new normal. And as usual I don’t fit in. So I am gonna grab that grease monkey from the car shop and lasso that little cowgirl and we’re gonna hold hands. We’re gonna band together and celebrate. Because it may not be your normal, and that’s OK. But it is our normal.