As a kid, when a soft spring gently moved aside for its showy sibling summer, like a cloud rolling on to its next destination, we’d pull up the box fans from the basement.
They’d be dusty with skin and sweat from the year before, as well as whatever accumulated on them while they sat on ice for the winter. These reserve soldiers were a sign that summer, finally!, was here. Let the fun begin.
Each bedroom would be curated to hold their rickety form, crunched into a carpet, battled over for the best position of glorious, magical air flow toward one of two kids’ beds. This worked best, meaning a resolution was most peacefully acquired, in the girls’ room when my sister and I got bunk beds and the box fan could spend its season in the sun sitting on the thigh-high vanity we shared. Direct hits for both sleepers.
The sound of a box fan. That constant whir. That restless hum. It’s a lullaby.
Recently, Justin and I got a hyper quiet, new-fangled fancy fan. FIVE TIMES THE AIR FLOW. QUIET QUIET QUIET!
But tonight, for some reason, I turned it off and found myself pulling out our own dusty box fan and clunked it to our bedroom. It’s not so much the old-school style breeze I was searching for. It was the sound.
I have a distinct memory of one childhood summer night, sticky with sweat and anticipation. I couldn’t sleep. The next day was our show day at the county fair. The box fan kept me company as I lay wide awake, as restless as that hum, dreaming of the next day.
Maybe that’s why I pulled it out tonight instead of any other. Tomorrow I go home to Ohio.