Louisiana Air

Louisiana air feels like a green veil. The humidity is close and dampening. Low-clinging cloud cover and towering thunderheads make it like a greenhouse, which explains why Southern ladies have such supple skin. Westerners herd cattle all day, making them look like they were tanned by a leather smith. Easterners stand all along the Atlantic coast, the gale winds blowing their skin back until they look like stretched canvases. Northerns live in frigid cities where tall buildings block the sun; they look grey, like lumpy, day-old oats. But Southerners—oh, Southerners—wrinkles wouldn't dare. Southerners look daily-dipped in golden butter ‘til they die.

The air in Louisiana presses silence into your ears, as if the whole of the region were a soundproof room. It lingers, all thick and warm, tangible and tactile. Before a thunderstorm, even the atmosphere is voluptuous and rich, charged. In dry climates, the thirsty air evaporates a person’s glow.

In Louisiana, the steamy days make simmering nights. Love strikes young in the South, and I think it’s because of the humidity. Everyone’s skin holds a glittering sheen of sweat; even bringing in the groceries flushes the cheeks to an unchaste color. The soft-gauze haze filters faces, like a Vaseline smear on a photographer’s lens—the air makes everything feel more sensuous. Every word attenuates into whispers in the viscousness, and in that, there is a certain kind of heightened intimacy.

The streetlights, surrounded in swirling mist, start switching off; it's early morning and you should sleep. But you keep talking to that boy. Humidity gathered in his hair, giving him a silver-spritzed halo. The droplets that surround you are too small for gravity to have its way; instead, the dew hangs suspended, like plankton drifting in the sea. You were both raised near the Mississippi River, and neither cares about the glisten gathering on noses and cheeks; you’d rather stay in the warm blanket of nature than go into the chilling bite of air conditioning. He leans and kisses you. The breath between you warming the sweat that’s slicked on your face, his lips are already moist, and then he leaves. You watch the red aura of his taillights disappear around the corner. You go inside and pour sweet tea from the fridge and shiver, clothes damp. The whiskey-colored pitcher is full of fresh mint, which grows like a weed because of the humidity.