How was the West won without bottled water?

Since the onslaught of 40 days of rain, the term “French drain” has been whispered in my ear. Let me assure you, it is not as sexy as it sounds.

Remember when you saved up for a cool car or concert? Now it’s a new refrigerator and new gutters. Forget first world problems, these are grown-up problems.

Winds of change

Meanwhile, the same monsoon that rinsed out our basement also poured water down the freshly painted inside wall under the windowsill of our bedroom.

This was because the window air conditioning unit made it impossible to close the window. They are necessary because our home features hot water radiators instead of air ducts.

For years we had no air conditioning at all, then one fateful day, Mr. Wonderful brought home a window unit and I went from Pioneer to Princess in 6,000 btus.

Still, the downside of window units is that it is such a hassle to remove them from the window that they don’t come out until right before the snow flies. It’s a seasonal rite of passage around here. Pack up the a/c, put out the pumpkins.

Still, it can’t be denied that the water came IN because the a/c units didn’t come OUT.

Hard to fathom

I always imagine trying to explain to someone from 100 years ago how we have paid EXTRA to have something that renders common sense of “just shut the window, silly” obsolete.

“So let me get this straight. They pay extra to create an issue that will not allow them to open and shut their windows at will? I was really hoping they would turn out smarter than that.”

I figure that once we get done explaining air conditioning we can move on to paying for water — up to $2 per bottle — and really finish them off. I just know that our great-great grandparents could not conceive of a day when a bottle of water cost more than the equivalent in milk — or gasoline.

Convenience

It should be noted that there are any number of things that modern life consider almost a necessity that both Mr. Wonderful and I have lived without our whole lives.

It has occurred to us that neither of us, singularly or together, has ever resided in a home with a master suite, an attached garage, or central air.

I used to watch a lot of home, garden and real estate television until it started making me feel so bad about myself. Even buyers with just two cents to their housing budget sniff and sneer at any home lacking the aforementioned amenities. Realizing that neither our childhood homes, nor adult ones, had any of the common “must have” features of modern life (if by “modern” we mean the last 40 years), we were forced to face the bitter truth: We were raised by wolves and live like savages still.

Of course we never knew what we were missing because when you are young you don’t seem to feel the heat or cold like we do now. At least I don’t remember that.

Summer was shorts and flip-flops, sticky melting Popsicles, and the scent of hot asphalt after a rain (sublime).

I don’t remember temperature so much as feelings. If we were too hot, I don’t remember it. Maybe we ate ice cream or ran around in a sprinkler or something?

The truth is that not once growing up did I think we “needed” air conditioning at home or on the road. At home we had a box fan — one — that hummed in a hall window all summer long. I used to play supermodel and let it blow back my hair like a giant wind machine (Now that I’ve told you, I’m going to have to kill you).

Furthermore, it was the joy of my childhood to ride around with the car window down bouncing my hand along the airstream to the melodic cry of my mother’s “if your hand blows off and hits the car behind us, I’m not going back for it.” Now I get lightheaded at temperatures above 78 degrees and I consider a vehicle without working a/c to be no better than a buggy (sans the charm of the horse). I wouldn’t open the windows at all if not for the drive-through.

Dear friends who really should know me better recently suggested we go rustic tent camping in the Midwest in August. It was as if they had asked me to sleep hanging upside down from a tree like a bat. Just. Say. No.

Frankly, I feel like my ancestors worked long and hard to ensure I wouldn’t live like a homeless pioneer. If I had been, I can assure you that my Conestoga wagon would have required working a/c and an ample supply of bottled water.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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