A hundred years ago, I’d be gainfully married and probably toting about a passel of adorable, always filthy, rug rats with disarming smiles by thirty one. But it’s 2014 and no one gets to auction my hand to the highest bidder anymore. I have been single for the entirety of my adult life as a result. Revoke my feminism card (HAHA I’d like to see you try) but there are some things I find difficult to do and they almost always lead to stories like this.
Even admitting that much is difficult for me to say aloud. I pride myself on being overwhelming self-sufficient to the point of obnoxiously capable. I have moved myself from state to state with only hired hands – mostly because there are some things even brawny men-types need four hands to move – and I am comfortable working a cocktail party on my own, bouncing from person to person and conversation to conversation. All these details aside, I’m only 5’3 and there are – I’m going to say it again – some things I can’t or am no longer willing to attempt if only to preserve what little flexibility and goodwill my body will still allow me.
One of these things involves my air conditioner. It’s not a terribly intimidating thing but it weighs about half as much as I do or feels like it to me. This summer, for the first time, I asked for assistance with installation. My considerably taller and stronger and more male friend came over and lifted it into the shoulder-height (for me) window and locked it in place with the window frame. I was grateful. My room would again be cool and breezy.
And then night fell. I turned off the lights. I comfortably rolled over under my light blankets with the fan running. I was generally looking forward to a peaceful night of comfortable sleep.
That’s when I discovered the horrible truth.
Directly above my shetland pony of a hand-me-down AC unit that has seen me comfortably if loudly and not all that attractively through previous summers sits a monstrous beast of an AC unit that belongs to the apartment above. It cools a much larger and hotter dwelling. There are small children who run to and fro through the rooms creating heat and generally running amok. Condensation builds and it drips down because science and gravity will it so.
*pingping ping pingping ping*
It dripped right down onto my AC unit, and it wanted to drive me completely mad.
“No,” I said to myself that night, lying in the dark and not giving into my insomnia over a few little noises. “This will not stand. I will find a way to fix this tomorrow.”
And this is where the #strongindependentwoman hashtag was born. Because I’m a capable, independent female, and I will not impose on my friends any more than is absolutely necessary. I am resourceful. I am a problem solver. I am the glue that holds shit together dammit, and I will not be beaten by a little dripping!
Fast-forward 20 hours, and I have done what I thought was the impossible: the AC unit sat on a towel on my bed, and I was only slightly dripping with sweat. I proceeded to launch myself through the window (talk about an ab workout) and was sitting half inside, half outside with the window sill digging into my butt, a roll of duct tape around one wrist and a flimsily constructed barrier of hand towel plus plastic wrap clenched between my knees. It was a success! The towel would cushion the sound, the plastic wrap would keep water from dripping through the towel as happens when water strikes the same place again and again and again, and the duct tape would hold it all together and attached to the metal grating around the window unit.
See? I Can Do It Myself.
But then I had to get back inside. And let me tell you, 5’3 sitting in a windowsill that is shoulder height is a precarious place to be. I slid and slouched forward, stretching forward with a toe to get a foothold on the radiator.
Gravity took over.
I slid faster.
My hip caught.
Thinking back, I probably could have broken my neck if I hadn’t arched back to keep my chin from hitting the window, or my leg if I had hit the bed at a slightly different angle. I don’t always think these #strongindependentwoman things through all the way. A spotter probably would have been a good idea.
My #strongindependentwoman-ness got me a bruise the side of a grapefruit on one hip, a twisted joint that made walking around for the rest of the night fun, and a scrapped palm. The bruise is now pleasantly yellow and gross now and almost dips below the line of my one pair of shorts.
Then I got to heave my trusty shetland pony of an AC unit back into the window. It was a matter of independent pride dammit.
Perhaps next time I’ll just suck it up and ask for help? Or I’ll break out the #strongindependentwoman hashtag again and the more social media-connected of my male friends will conveniently show up before I do something stupid.
But also, when I’m being pestered by pings next summer, I’m going to ask my dad why he hasn’t found me an eligible suitor I can marry for love not money yet.
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