I’m not asking a rhetorical question, as I watch Meredith, my houseguest from Panama, move through my house in three sweaters, mittens, two pairs of socks, a scarf and a coat. When it gets cold outside (and 30 degrees Fahrenheit is cold in Charleston, South Carolina), my house feels like a freaking freezer. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING will warm it up.
My house was built in 1851, before the era of air conditioning and insulation. A Charleston single house, it was designed to breathe, helping the oppressively hot air move through the building in the summer months. In winter, they must’ve lived upstairs. It’s all I can figure, given that the heart pine board floor downstairs is not insulated. Once, I think I put my bare foot on it in January, and it stuck, like a wet tongue on an ice cube.
The house breathes all right. I can feel cold air pumping through a crack in the living room floor right now. Freezing air blows the shade in the bathroom as I soak in a tub of hot water trying to warm up. Once, I took a knife out of the silverware drawer in the kitchen and dropped it on the floor because it felt like an icicle. Taking a shower in this house on winter mornings is sheer torture. If I am not awake when I stumble in there, I certainly am when I open that door and Arctic gales gush into the shower stall with me.
It doesn’t matter what temperature selection I make on the thermostat. We’re heating the neighborhood through our single pane wavy glass windows that can’t be replaced for reasons of
insanity preservation. We also cannot weather strip the original front door threshold, because it will ruin the character of the worn indention that a century-and-a-half of footsteps have created. Never mind that it is an almost inch-deep culvert that conducts cold air.
I think I can see my breath right now. Really.
I know I am horrible, that I should be thankful to have a house. And, I am.
But, I desperately wonder: would an igloo be warmer right now?