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Hidden from the sunSeptember 1, 2015

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Call me a wimp but some days are just too hot. August loved hitting the top thirties, topping over the brink of 40 occasionally and can still be pretty unbearable once the sun has departed. Nights are a gaggle of sweaty bodies and kicked off covers. Opening the door to a live oven is quite simply horrible. On days like today, of which we get a good handful every year, thee are only 3 options – boil, sweat or hide. Those brave enough to boil try to head for the beach or gather by shaded fans and sip ice drinks, those who need to sweat usually do so in work clothes, but mostly we hide.

These are the days we worship the white boxes on our walls. If your location sports an air conditioning unit you’ve hit jackpot, and they are everywhere, even in tiny kiosks. You see people linger and debate how low you can set them, others beg you to put them off as their body is shocked from going in and out of temperature fluctuations. These white boxes provide room to breathe, space to work, a cocoon from the reality of reddened faces and sticky skin. They are our shelter, allowing us to pretend.

And we like to pretend, to hide from that which scorches us, to travel away and dream that the world is pastel and pretty, not marred in mud and grime, darkened by death and broken by lack of simple kindness. We shut out the knowledge that less than 2 hours south families take what shelter they can in city parks before continuing their long pilgrimage from terror to safety. We rephrase the exodus and call it a migration rather than civilian forced retreat, a cacophony of war battered souls looking for refuge. We forget our refuge centres still have people living in their rooms from the last conflict, more than a decade of displacement under their belts. We pretend because we want to believe in better, we want to feel safe and secure, we want to feel a little less helpless.

So the white box beeps and I stand under it’s cool breeze. I breathe in and release the breath and wonder if there is anything I can really do, if I can venture into that oven or if my place is really in this cocoon? I lay in bed at nights ashamed at my inaction and yet clear in the knowledge that even a 20 minute travel stretches my physical abilities. There is no simple solution but my heart still yearns to find one. Soon the sun will dip again, soon the rain will come, the cool of autumn and the danger of winter, when will we stop hiding?

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