Once upon a time, I might have equated the thought of the teenage me “being hot” to “being cool.” That is, dressed in the stylish clothes my mom couldn’t afford to buy me. Luckily, living in a three-generation rented flat in San Francisco, I had the use of two sewing machines until I turned sixteen and my grandmother (by then, a widow) decided she’d had it with my father’s drunken rampages and my younger brother’s lack of acceptable social behavior. By age twenty, I’d learned to sew fairly well.
“Being hot” during my early to mid twenties meant dressing to please my first husband. Well, as far as my checkbook would allow. Yes, my checkbook, in both our names. I was the person who fed it, balanced it, soothed it during financially worrisome times–and always kept it up-to-date. Regardless, I was never “hot enough” for my first husband, despite my most intimate outfits. Somehow, other women were. And my first husband let me know it with abusive emphasis.
“Being hot” in my early to mid thirties took on an entirely new definition. Practically anything I did pleased my second husband (although I had to get better at pronouncing a few of my words correctly). I simply could be myself–the person he loved. We aged closer in spirit with each passing year. I lost him to cancer after forty-two years of marriage. The 17th of February, 2017. Every month, I light LED candles in our home in his memory. I miss him beyond belief and will do so until the day I die.
And “being hot” in September, 2022? I refer to the three-digit temperatures influenced by the ignorance, stupidity, apathy and/or greed of the human race, and people’s corresponding lack of adequate planning for the long run, (Myself included, I have to admit.) Without home air conditioning, “Being hot” at the age of 79 has become a matter of endurance for me. And a matter of life-and-death for all-too-many others.
I hope in 2023, “being hot” will refer mostly to the spiciness of the salsa in my refrigerator. But I’m not making any predictions.
With warm regards,
Laurel Anne Hill
Author and Former Underground Storage Tank Operator