Code Red. That’s the phrase I’ve heard so often in the past two months that I don’t even get it confused with the fictional punishment from “A Few Good Men” anymore. Code Red days in Baltimore mean that the heat, humid, and air quality are such that anyone who is not in perfect health shouldn’t ever venture outside and the city has to open cooling centers for the homeless and those without air.
Who is supposed to stay indoors? Children, asthmatics, and the elderly. I would check on my elderly neighbors but they’re the ones sitting out on their shaded porches claiming to feel a breeze. I don’t feel it.
In my house, there are three of us with asthma: me, my brother, and my elderly aunt. Oddly enough, my aunt is the first one to venture outside and will tell you that it’s not hot even though the temperature reads 99 degrees. If that’s not hot, I don’t know what is.
But it’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity, as we like to say here in Charm City. I know this because when I want to see just how bad it is outside, I go to the front door, stick my head out of the storm door, and when I get hit by a wall of heat and humidity, I come right back in, declaring anyone who sits outside to be completely insane.
So how have I been staying cool? Well, a good story would include the portable air conditioner hooked up to the very small windows in my room at the back of the house where I get no breeze. But that wouldn’t be true because my air conditioner thinks the room is actually 69 degrees! Ha! I wish! What reality is that a/c unit living in?
Unfortunately, I had to venture outside the past couple of days and that was not a good idea. Two days ago I left earlier in the day to go to the grocery store. Without a car I had to walk, but it wasn’t far. By the time I got back, my t-shirt was drenched in sweat and I think I got 2 shades darker. My mother’s response: I’m crazy. Yeah, I know.
Yesterday I had to go to an appointment at the hospital at 3 pm. Note to self, that is almost never a good time to have a doctor’s appointment. Dripping in sweat, I made it by way of public transportation, but I sweat through my clothes, again.
Now I sit in my room, hoping that my air conditioner gets some sense or reality and starts working properly. I’m also dealing with a summer cold. Oh, yes, despite the record-breaking temperatures, I have a cold.
I’ve always said that I prefer cooler weather to warmer weather because you can always put on more layers for warmth. I still stand by that. Some of my neighbors are even longing for those days earlier in the year when we were bombarded with apocalyptic-type snow. Snow I can deal with. I’m just glad it’s already July, so that we can get on with the summer. Fall can’t come fast enough.
For now, I’ll keep drinking my water and considering an ice bath to remind my body of what it feels like to be cool and normal while I pray to no longer hear the words “code red” except in a movie.