My slanted, attic apartment downtown in Seward has a lot of charming flaws. I have to brush my teeth in my kitchen sink, for one, but that’s forced me to be more diligent on my dishes.
Another idiosyncrasy associated with living in a log cabin in downtown Seward attracts a lot of attention. Tourists tend to flock to my front lawn, taking pictures of my house and, by association, of me staring at them through my windows while I work.
The biggest flaw snuck up on me, though.
As winter disappeared and the final snow melted, my apartment was nice and cozy with a space heater or two. We are a far cry from those days now.
Stepping outside this morning, it felt like a humid afternoon in New Jersey but with the added Alaska touch of wildfire smoke smogging the air.
If I had grown up in the church, I’m sure I would be able to pull out a biblical reference. Instead, I grew up on the beach so I was more concerned about the negative effects the smoke would have on an afternoon spent sunbathing.
On my lunch break, I laid my towel out on the front lawn and got to work soaking in the rays and scaring off the camera-happy tourists.
After one podcast episode and a few flips and turns to tan evenly, I had worked up a sweat. It wasn’t quite the humid Jersey Shore beaches I grew up with, but I’m currently the tannest I’ve been since I packed my extra bathing suits away in my parent’s basement three years ago.
I went upstairs to get some more water and sunscreen (see, mom, hydrated and protected) and that’s when it hit me. While walking up the stairs into my apartment, a wall of heat stopped me in my tracks. I looked to my left and my right, at both fans trying their hardest to keep things cool. They were failing.
My old slanted, attic apartment has a huge flaw. All the windows are painted shut. In Alaska summers past, I don’t think it would’ve been too much of an issue.
But during this Alaska summer, with not a drop of Seward rain for days and temperatures consistently hitting the 70s, 80s and even 90s, I had reached my boiling point.
The windows were getting opened.
I Googled, I shopped and I prepped and then I got busy scraping — first side, second side, third side, last side! Tada! Oh wait, no … turns out they painted the windows shut on both sides of the house.
So, find a ladder, climb on the roof, scrape, scrape, scrape. First side, second side, third side, actual last side and tada! Oh wait, no … tada isn’t the right word. It was more of a slow, heaving push open. Inch by inch.
It felt like I was tearing through the window’s calluses, digging away multicolored layers until, slowly, I could lift it up and let the air flow in.
And then, the first window was done. I climbed through it and into my bedroom before plopping onto my bed, already daydreaming about the cool night’s sleep I’d enjoy that evening.
I tried to open the other windows, but, like I said, my house is slanted. As I began to scrape I realized that the paint was not only keeping the windows shut, but also in their proper place. I decided I would be content with one open window in exchange for keeping my home structurally sound.
Instead, I decided to sit next to the newly opened window with a fan at full blast, trying to cool down.
I had grown accustomed to finding ways to stay warm during the Alaska winters. I never thought I’d have to work to stay cool in the summers.
Like the idiosyncrasies in my home, the heat kind of snuck up on me. Nothing an open window couldn’t fix, though.