Living through unbearably cold winters as a kid in Vermont and New Hampshire made me long desperately for heat. "Hot Heat" as my dad called it. Not just regular old heat. I longed for heat you couldn't find in a New England house at night in -30 degree temperatures. I didn't want to be warm while wearing a turtleneck and a sweater indoors, I wanted to be warm in a tee-shirt and shorts. My dad and I would have silent battles back and forth with the thermostat being "mysteriously" cranked up or down depending on who was closest to it while the other one wasn't looking. No matter what I did though my toes were always cold --even with my socks on in bed-- and I swore that when I grew up I'd leave that subzero climate far, far behind. While I'm not sure that at age nine I would have been able to pick Africa out on a map, I am quite certain it was not the destination I had in mind for my future.
Thirty years later, as I drive through town at noon picking my kids up in 99% humidity and 100 degree temps in a car with broken air conditioning, sweat dripping everywhere and my mood as cranky as equatorial Hot Heat can make a human being, I try to perk myself up by thinking of those years of cold toes in bed, frozen nose-hairs on my walk to the school bus in the morning, and warmed-up Pop Tarts tucked into my mittens serving as combination breakfast/hand warmers. While the heat here in Gabon gets even a bit too hot for me some days, it would actually seem that as far as childhood wishes go I pretty much won the lottery. And I don't need to fight anyone over the thermostat anymore either.