Hello again friends. Thanks to those who have offered your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. It’s been a very tough couple weeks, but my family is strong and I know we’ll make it through this challenging life experience.

What’s that? Oh, goodness no! I didn’t lose a dear loved one or anything nearly that difficult! No, no. It’s not cancer or even a job loss. Nope, not foreclosure or divorce, thank heavens. Gosh, you guys are kind of making me feel like I’m blowing things way out of proportion now. There are admittedly much worse things that can happen in life, but losing your air conditioner is no fun at all.

Looking back I’m sorry to say I frequently fell into a pattern of taking my home AC for granted. During my seven-year tenure as a homeowner it has never failed to work its magic when I pushed the buttons.

I will admit I’m not entirely sure how those contraptions even work, although my brilliant husband has probably explained it to me a half-dozen times. Something about coils and compressors and a bunch of little miniature Elsa dolls trapped behind the vents, expressing frustration over their captivity by angrily breathing ice cold air into the room. Or maybe that last part was just something fun my imagination dreamed up while he was rambling about condenser fans. I dunno. It’s all a blur at this point.

I typically rely on my system without giving it much thought through the summer, but there is always that brief moment of panic in the early spring, when I worry this might be the year it finally stops working for some reason. By “spring” I mean that weird warm spell in February, when we have to crank on our AC for the very first time since that last weird warm spell in January.

By the time we get into March and everything is in working order, I typically barely give my AC another thought. Only this year was the year it finally stopped working, a couple months into March, and suddenly the air conditioner was the only thing I could think about.

I’m happy to say our situation is under control for now, and although it looks like we’re going to take a pretty big financial blow, we’re no longer suffering at the moment. However, due to waiting for parts and other issues we did end up going several days without any AC in the house and, yes, of course it was those days it got so hot and muggy. Of course it was.

I guess we could have just gone to stay with a relative or something — and my kids were gone for part of the ordeal — but my husband and I were determined to stay home and tough it out. It’s only March, right?

“It’s really not that hot,” we reasoned. “Plus, we’re campers. Backpackers even. We can handle a few warm nights. Piece of cake!”

LOL! Observations:
• Temps in the mid-80s are pretty stinkin’ hot, particularly from inside a dwelling that was designed to rely heavily on central air conditioning. I guess we get so accustomed to resigning ourselves to the idea of temps going into the 90s and above in Mobile that we had a hard time being intimidated by the mid-80s. Turns out that’s still pretty darn toasty.

Even with the doors and windows open and a couple fans running, the air inside the house was uncomfortably warm and thick with humidity, and we tossed and turned all night long and woke up soaking wet and covered in sweat. I have no idea why we didn’t just set up a tent in the back yard, but we were determined to sleep in our own bed.

• Being uncomfortably warm should probably be a mitigating factor in homicide and assault cases. We usually get along pretty well in my house. Everybody is mostly pretty witty and even-tempered and we try not to sweat the small stuff. Being hot for hours on end amplified every minor annoyance to the point where someone carelessly brushing up against you could incite pure and terrifying rage.

• Post-hurricane-chic is only chic post hurricane. You know those first few days after a hurricane hits the Mobile area, when nobody has power and everybody’s just trying to make the most of things until the lights and AC come back on?

It’s not uncommon to see folks staggering around town half-dressed in sweat-soaked tanks and flip flops, with bright red faces, dazed and disoriented looks in their eyes, and greasy, disheveled hair hanging in their faces. It may not be our most attractive look but we just survived a damn hurricane! We’re allowed to look a little beaten up.
Turns out that rugged, miserable look doesn’t fit in quite so well when there’s no hurricane involved. I suspect when we finally staggered into the Wal-Mart looking for window units for temporary relief we probably looked like we’d just finished filming an episode of “The Walking Dead.” You know you’re looking rough when strangers are staring at you in pity at the Tillman’s Corner Wal-Mart, wondering what sort of especially hardscrabble life you must have had.

• Air conditioning is essential to life here on the Gulf Coast. If March temps were challenging for my young and healthy family to withstand I can’t even imagine someone with more physical challenges trying to endure a summer in the heat. Air conditioning is absolutely life-sustaining in our climate, and that’s not even considering it’s only expected to get hotter in the coming years. It makes me wonder what sorts of resources are available for the elderly and others who might lack the personal funds to repair or replace broken air conditioning.

Drop what you’re doing right now and give your AC a big ol’ hug. And don’t forget to change your filters!