Yesterday my phone blew a microchip hissy fit and lost it ability to dial out or answer calls a few hours before the air-conditioning in the living room — a big-ass window unit that cools much of the house — died and shortly after a lightbulb in the dining room fixture exploded. It’s not just me: the a.c. in Ken’s car whimpered out, and when he was driving the big red 1950s tractor into the field to clear brush, some wires blew up so he had to stop in a hurry.
We are made of energy like everything living. I remember how, when one of my kids went through a bundle of years having seizures, he would later say to me, “I just have too much electricity in my brain.” We can turn electricity into energy, and obviously, the reverse is also true.
For the last month, I’ve been tunnelling through a this-is-your-life excursion to put together my papers for an archive being set up on my life and work at Pittsburg State University. There’s nothing like reading decades of old letters and journals to turn up the energy running through a human psyche. “So it’s no wonder you’re short-circuiting things around you,” my therapist told me.
But what’s exploded or broken or otherwise put out of commission must, especially in the case of an air-conditioner on a 101 degree day in Kansas, be fixed and fixed quick. This visceral reality came home to me as I sat on my living room couch with sweat running down my face. I couldn’t drive to the store easily in the heat (all I had was Ken’s no-a.c. car) to buy a new a.c. because Ken had my much-cooler-cooling car for his work driving some hours west and east for work. I couldn’t call for a ride because my phone and I were awaiting a new SIM card. But I could text, and so I asked Karen, my sister-in-law, to take me to Menard’s, and then we both asked our friend Stephen to help us haul and install a 66-pound new a.c. It turned out Stephen is a whiz at this, and Karen’s also great at making sure we seal and set the a.c. just right. Within two hours, the new loud machine was plugged in and diminishing the tropic conditions in the living room.
Meanwhile, there’s light bulb to replace, a phone to fix, a car repair shop to visit, and a tractor to rewire (at the kitchen table late last night, Ken made all the new wiring to add). Luckily, we have enough electricity around and within us to get this done while journeying through another crazy-hot day abuzz with the electrical hum of a million cicadas in the energetic breeze.