I remember my first summer in America.
It was back in 2011 in steamy and muggy Washington DC. It was a work trip and I only packed work clothes.
Somehow it didn’t occur to me that America would be hot. After all, it has temperate climate which means “mild temperatures”.
Surely it could not be hotter than tropical Kuala Lumpur, right? Wrong. It was a roaster at 90 degrees Fahrenheit (or 32 degrees Celcius) and I had to buy shorts at the store. I even changed into a tank top and flip flops right after business meetings.
When I said right after, I mean immediately after we shook hands and bade each other farewell, I went to the restroom and stripped.
The relief was intense. You see, American buildings do not have their air-conditioner blasting at Arctic temperatures. It is more of a steady cool temperature and there is no draught. It was very different from the Malaysian experience where buildings, taxis and LRTs have their air-conditioners at full blast.
It was pre-Uber in 2011, or bike shares and scooter shares. So people were on their feet most of the time.
DC is a very walkable city so everyone walks or takes the metro. It is also an extremely touristy town. Naturally of course, because of the politics, the history, the monuments and the museums.
So you can imagine, I was dealing with crowds of people, the insane humidity and my stupidity for not bringing warm weather clothes.
But not all of America has gross summers like DC. Summers in high-elevation cities like Denver, Colorado; Asheville, North Carolina or Prescott, Arizona are great.
Summers outside feel like a cool spring weather and arid. It means you won’t be sweating buckets. It gets hot but not oppressive.
I felt like I was relearning Form 3 Geography all over again – how rivers, mountains and valleys shape wind and rain patterns, etc.
As I travelled around the US more and now having settled here, I no longer laugh at the fact that there is a Weather Channel.
I also check the weather every day before going to work. I plan my weekends, vacations and road trips based on the weather forecasts. I own rain jackets, umbrellas, rain boots and waterproof bags.
I have become very prepared for the American temperate climate that ranges from the high humid heat to freezing cold blizzards to gloomy all-day rainfall.
I used to think it was trivial to talk about the weather but you will not believe what a conversation starter it is!
Living in a hyper-politicised city also means the weather is a good break from the political shitstorm.
And I for one, savour those quiet days and would happily engage in a conversation about yesterday’s (natural and actual) storm.