Growing up in the Northeast, I never experienced air conditioning much, save for the 10 days of heat waves we were guaranteed to get every summer. Air conditioning existed in one room in our house. On the hottest of summer days, it was time to get in the car, turn the fan on high, and head off to the movies or a shopping mall where central air circulation was sure to delight the moisture on our hot, sticky skin. There was no surer way to stay cool unless your mother was willing to take you to the neighborhood pool. In the South, however, air conditioning is everywhere. It reached 98 degrees in Jacksonville the year my sister and I flew to Florida to visit our grandparents. They had air conditioning in their home, air conditioning in their car, and at every restaurant. Driving down the interstate, you could see construction workers drenched in sweat as they filled in potholes. They seemed to be the only people I could find who work outside all day long. Even gas stations had their coolant systems blasting. While my parents were home, sweltering in 85-degree temperature, during our whole week, the only time we felt the thick humidity was going from the car into a building. I spied a heater in my grandparents’ basement, and asked them what it was used for. “Well, sometimes it gets really cold,” my grandmother said, describing what was probably a blustery winter day where we lived. “One day when I woke up, I saw a frost at the end of our driveway!”

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