Siri, How Many Degrees Celsius is Fahrenheit 451?

Posted on Saturday, Jul 13, 2019

 As a Texan, I was born and raised in the heat of the south. You catch on quickly as a kid. When leaving the pool on a blistering summer day, you splash water onto the ground before you step on it. You know not to grab your car seatbelt by the metal. Magnifying glasses are easy entertainment if you don’t kneel on the concrete for too long, and if it’s ever too much, and you find yourself weary from the stifling heat, a sweet, patient savior awaits you at every open door: air conditioning. This summer, I caught a flight from Austin, Texas to start my internship in Berlin, where I have been greeted daily by no less than the actual wrath of God.
Let me make this clear: I am from Texas. I did not think that heat could beat me down. I grew up in the forges of 110-degree summer camps. I have walked scalding pavement unflinchingly. It has become apparent, however, that in Texas, you do not learn to become heat-resistant, but rather become an expert at dodging in and out of air-conditioned locales. The relief of climate control is never more than a walk from the car to the grocery store. As I write in this stifling cafe, I am grieving bitterly.
However, in good keeping with American spirit, I am pushing through! Every morning I sweat out a liter in the underground sauna system [read: German U-bahn], and every day I walk from my stop into the 3rd circle of hell [read: 3rd floor office]. My coworkers are delighted by my inability to cope. They gifted me one of three office fans, stick my coffee in the freezer every morning, and routinely bring ice cream to share at lunch, in my honor. While I do not think I will ever achieve the German willingness to be slightly sweaty at all times, I do appreciate their dedication to environmentalism. I can only wonder, as I grow faint from heat in my westward facing office, whether or not Ray Bradbury ever considered lack of air conditioning as an expediting factor in combustion.

Catherine Whitten
Centre International de Formation Européenne
Berlin, Germany | summer 2019