No really, it is the humidity.

Posted: 30 July 2008 in Charlottesville, observations, other folks, you've got to be kidding

I look back fondly on my undergrad days.  Sure, the campus was built on a hill, into the side of a mountain actually, but except for an icy month in winter and another sweltering month in the summer, winding my way through the trees and brick buildings was a breeze, hills or not.  When I moved to San Francisco I better understood what hills meant.  But still, I biked everywhere, barely out of breath.  I suppose you could argue that both cities had the best weather and that truly warm days were a rarity.  You’re probably nodding your head right now thinking, “She’s just never been here.  She doesn’t understand what hot is.” Points for being gracious enough not to admit it.  

You’re right.  Charlottesville is also built into the side of a mountain.  Mount Everest.  It also has a hot summer month not unlike Death Valley.  But in this case, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.  I understand now why New Yorkers have a reputation for moving fast and talking fast.  Why some people call it “The War of Northern Aggression.”  Why we built a circular highway in DC that would resemble a racetrack if there were less people on it.  It’s not actually hot there.  The northern half of the East Coast can handle being in a hurry because they aren’t drowning in a pool of their own sweat each time they blink.  

Now I understand why no one honks when the light turns green; it takes too much effort to move your foot over to the gas.  If you sit through one more light change, it’s just that much longer you won’t have to move from the position you’ve carefully struck to avoid dying of heat stroke.  Groceries getting rung up at the speed of sludge?  Creating a breeze would freeze everyone in a 10 mile radius, so damp they are.  Y’all? That’s cause it’s too hot to move your mouth.  That one’s a freebie.  

Worse yet, it’s still a university environment.  Eco conscious (and frankly, without a lot of parking spaces), most everyone walks everywhere.  But it isn’t just a hop, skip and a jump and bob’s your uncle.  Oh no, it’s a grueling march though chewable humidity.  I’ll translate some common phrases for those of you that haven’t visited UVA in the summer:  
It’s just over there = walk three miles, turn right and cross the street.
Take a left at the light and you’ll see it = fill your canteen and walk in a zig-zag formation, turning every half mile til you die.  
It’s a coupla blocks = rent a camel. 

You don’t have to thank me.  Just bring a towel when you visit and don’t expect me to make any movements visible to the human eye.

  1. Digger says:

    I have always said that things are slower in the South because you’d die if you went fast. Of course, that said, I like my heat chewable. I was unpleasantly hot in Jerusalem only once because there was no humidity (my non-Southern collegues thought they were dying). I have done archaeological survey (walk 30 meters, dig a hole, refill the hole, walk another 30 meters, dig a hole…) in (no exaggeration) a heat index of 130.

    But I am from the South. Not DC or northern Virginia kind of South (they aren’t the South) but Bible Belt (South Carolina) kind of South. And since I am American Indian from there, I’d say I’m acclimated…so I am always surprised that non-Southerners there don’t spontaniously combust.

  2. rye says:

    Welcome to Virginia! Poor thing 🙂

    Your reasoning behind “y’all?” Brilliant!

  3. backlist says:

    But I’ve been in Virginia! What the hell is wrong with this place!? I will note that it was much better this afternoon.

    And as for you Digger, I have spontaneously combusted, but the humidity put me out.

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