I grew up in a very sheltered world.
It was not until I got out of college that I realized that every one's dad did not have a good job and UAW health insurance.
Once I discovered that there were hungry and homeless people in our own country, I became quite militant about fixing it.
I spent 5 years as a vegetarian -- not for health reasons, but political.
Why should I eat like a queen when others are starving?
I gradually realized that not eating a chicken wing was not going to save the world. I decided to worry about the root cause of hunger -- poverty, and broke my meatless fast by puling pork off of a pig that my cousin Chuck was roasting.
I had the same relationship with air-conditioning. I'm privileged to have a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head -- air-conditioning is a luxury. I didn't grow up with it, my college houses never had it, my Philadelphia flat did not have it, and my house now does not have central air-conditioning.
It became a point of pride.
I spend a good deal of time getting dressed in front of the open refrigerator door.
Of course it became easy to do. Work was air-conditioned and I spent a lot of time (about 3 years) on AVS's side of the house.
When AVS and I broke up we had one of those horrible nights on the porch that no one should put themselves through. AVS was moving out and throwing lots of stuff away. He'd hold something up (sometimes something I'd given him) and ask if I wanted it. Arms crossed and teary, I'd adamantly shake my head "no." This continued for quite a while-- photos, ticket stubs, cards and candles hit the trash can. Furniture, books and music were set out for a trip to Goodwill. My heart was breaking, but I could not quit watching.
He hauled out his air-conditioners asked me if I wanted them and I squeaked out "yes."
I'd found the price of my pride, and it was air-conditioning.
For a few years after that I would not let myself put them in until July 1-- make myself suffer for a bit.
This year I jumped the gun. This evening I hauled the air-conditioners from the basement and in to my windows.
I was tired of waking up in the morning all sweaty and crabby.
Maybe next year I'll get central air.
You can't change the world when you're hot and cranky.