Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Caribbean Meltdown

I’ve been on the island now for over a year, and I’ve gotten all too familiar with The Caribbean Meltdown phenomenon, or simply “The Meltdown”. The Meltdown tends to be most prevalent during the months of August and September, since these are the hottest, most stagnant and unbelievably humid months of the year – imagine living in a steam room without any escape for 2 months.  Okay, it’s not that bad, but the air is so thick down here that you can actually see it at times, like steam, and it can get to you…big time.  So, much to my own dismay I’m in the heart of Meltdown season right now. 

A Caribbean Meltdown is best described as simply overheating….sweating profusely, inability to cool down and total discomfort.  No doubt, this is a physical and emotional meltdown because at times I have felt as though I am physically melting away, and it’s more than clear that I’m emotionally, uncontrollably, breaking down. 
The frequency of these meltdowns varies, but I’d say I’m averaging about 3 meltdowns a week.  In fact, I had a minor meltdown this morning, which is a great example.  I got up at 5:30 a.m. (because it’s too hot to run after 7:00 a.m. here), had my morning coffee and took off for a longer run than usual.  During my run I somehow stayed pretty mentally strong even though I was becoming increasingly aware of the thick/humid/hot air as the sun came up.  As I ran by my neighbor we said hello, and he commented on how hot of a morning it was.  I have to say that I was proud of myself for not being the first to complain about the heat.  Again, mentally stronger than normal.  Once I got home, I took my time stretching out and had another cup of coffee out on my deck – super mentally strong, as I’m typically rushing into the bedroom where we do have an AC unit and a fan (my only saving grace).  I then took a cold shower, got dressed, dried my hair and put on some make-up.  I felt refreshed and ready to take on the day.  But, upon opening the door of my bedroom to enter the kitchen, I was smacked in the face by the hot air once again.  This is when things took turn for the worst.

After eating breakfast I wanted to take care of some normal, everyday household tasks before starting my day.  I unloaded the dishwasher, washed some dishes and changed the sheets on my bed.  While I was changing the sheets, sweat started pouring down my face, back and neck, I wiped it off with a paper towel and realized that I was also wiping and sweating off all of my make-up and my hair was a mess.  At this point, normal, nice and stable Christine exits and some sort of monster completely takes over. 

I walked past Kevin to get some laundry out of the washing machine and he starts talking to me about plans for the weekend.  It went something like this....
Kevin (sweetly): "Hey, Babe, I have the name of the captain that we need to call to set up our boating trip on Sunday.  Do you want me to text it to you, or is email easier?"
Me: "Texting is fine, or...wait (monster creeping in quickly), email is better...or, I don't really care, Kevin.  I'm having a complete meltdown (sweating, sweating, sweating) right now, and I can't talk about our weekend plans with you (ROARRRRR)."
I then stop what I’m doing, go back to the bedroom with the AC, sit in front of the fan, and watch the Today show until the monster vanishes and my lovely self comes back.  This transition is indeed a phenomenon like I've never experienced before.       
However, this morning’s Meltdown was mild because in my case the overheating/breaking down is typically supplemented by whatever other Caribbean issue may be bothering me at that moment.  Most commonly, the bugs.  Especially during these months since it’s so humid, the bugs are thick and vicious.  I don’t go in our front yard without bug spray – ever. 
Other nagging annoyances include lack of air conditioning in our home (except the bedroom, which is common in the Caribbean b/c of the expense and construction of homes), the fact that I’m sweating off the makeup I just applied, sweating after taking a cold shower, sweating through the clothes that I just put on for the day, inability to get through a morning run without thinking about what I wouldn’t give for a nice, crisp, flat Chicago morning, or just basic and overall frustration with how uncomfortable I am (again).
I have to thank Kevin for being patient with me, since [curiously] none of this seems to bother him.  He can run 7 miles in 100% humidity, with 90 degree weather, take a cold shower, still be sweating his ass off, and when I bring up how hot it is, he’ll look at me with complete confusion and say, ‘what do you mean?’ as sweat pours down his forehead.  Okay, add that to the above list of nagging annoyances.
I’ve talked with other people on the island about the Caribbean Meltdown, and it’s reassuring to know that others experience this too.  When I was golfing on Sunday, one of my fellow golf partners, that has lived on the island for over 30 years, mentioned that she still has meltdowns.  Wait…is that reassuring?? 
Anyway, I guess it’s better to have a couple of uncomfortable months, then to have 6-7 months of freezing cold and grey skies like we did in Chicago.  And, I know that after this month, the next several months are going to provide beautiful weather almost every day.  I just wish there was a way to escape the heat in my own home during “Caribbean Meltdown” season.  Ugh.




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