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Steam Heat by Jesse Printer Friendly

I sat in an office today, listening to a man tell me about steam heat. About the house he's lived in, probably for as long as I've been alive. "I don't think I've even seen steam heat in a house," I said.

It seemed to bend from a conversation into a stream of consciousness.

Let me pause a minute, because I feel like I may sound like I'm complaining, and I'm not. I wasn't bored - I do HVAC for a living, so it's actually kind of interesting - it's just sometimes when people talk to me passed some arbitrary point, I don't know what to do with myself. In retrospect, he seemed very comfortable and quite content to just tell me how he'd never had anything but steam heat his whole life. How even though he doesn't have a radiator in every room, most of them don't get that cold because the pipes in the walls are giving off heat, and how warm the basement gets when the boiler is running. How actually, the colder it gets outside, the warmer is the basement cause the boiler is running harder. How you can open the door to the basement and sometimes that heat'll hit you right in the face. And all that heat comes up through the floor. Even though his wife likes to move furniture around and she wanted to move some things in the kitchen and she had him take the radiator out of there, it still never gets that cold. There's a bathroom on the first floor though, if he replaced the steam with hot water - but what a hassle that would be, with the circulator pumps; well, not a hassle really, it would just take time, and all it takes to run the steam is 40 watts for the actuator, and if the power ever goes out he's got this little generator he can hook up and they'll have plenty of heat, even though there's no power. It's only one zone though. That's the problem. But if he put water in, it would be so easy to put a little radiant heater in that downstairs bathroom, cause usually it doesn't really get that cold in there - It's just a half bath, no shower, so if you gotta run in there to take a leak, it's no problem, but if you gotta stay longer or if you come down in the morning in just your pajamas to shave it's fuckin' crisp.

I love thinking. I can pretty much never stop thinking. I guess I felt like we should've been working - that I had things to do, but see it was the day before Thanksgiving and basically everyone was gone anyway. Even so. - but I'm glad Bill told me about his house. I like to know, despite not knowing how to be comfortable listening.

I was thinking though. About the way people talk around the holidays, or before the weekend. Do you have any big plans? Family coming in? I'm going with my girlfriend to her parents' house in New York. Oh, Great! It's not always that answer though. Many times in my life, I hadn't really planned anything for a holiday and didn't have anyone in my life who had a family who expected people to come for the holidays. It throws people off when you don't have an answer. When you're not doing normal people things, when your pattern doesn't fit their pattern. I've spent so much time in that canyon, but it's like I just happened to recall what it was like tonight because interactions are so *cozy* when you share a pattern. But are people asking in the pursuit of getting to know, just like the way I'm happy to listen to the story of Bill's old heating system? Or is it more of a check to make sure they're on the right path? Okay, he's doing holiday stuff in a family-like manner as well. Check. Same pattern. This average style life with the family and whatnot was a good call. Phew.

I'm happy for you. I just don't know how to encourage your stories. Talk freely. Like Bill. I'll excuse myself when I have something to do. It's nice to hear.


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