“It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here,” my dad said about my childhood hometown. And there were many benefits I took for granted. Near the end of the world, the heavens make themselves known earlier in the evening and put on a better show than in the city. Near the end of the world, I sat on my porch and watched storms roll into being from nearly fifty miles away. I rode a bike down an impossible dirt road to the high school football field. I felt like the other end of town was a long way, though it was maybe five miles. Near the end of the world, people stepped outside when they heard an ambulance or caught a glimpse of the local hearse. Near the end of the world, every parade was a treat with candy thrown to the street.

Summer days sweltered near the end of the world and winter days bit. Wind operated on three speeds all year long: 1) too little to breathe, 2) enough to cool your sweat, or 3) too much to breathe. Snow resulted in ice cream every single time. Rain was the standard wash of the streets. Tornadoes threatened. The field of blue above calmed. Cantaloupe from the garden existed as a lunchtime blessing.

Watercoolers reigned supreme. A watercooler sounded like a low-idling boat, which couldn’t have been more appropriate. The entire concept: blow air over a thin pan of water and voila! Cool air. This worked much better when the blower was your mouth and the thin pan of water was a tall glass of ice water or tea.

I had a love-hate relationship with the watercooler. I loved that it provided some respite and I hated that it never really felt cool. Mostly, it felt humid indoors and breezy, depending on my distance from the contraption.

When I left the end of the world, I traveled inland only a little but I wholesale adopted central air conditioning. It seemed the perfect fix for any occasion. Only years later did I really have to face the personal cost of pretending I live farther from the end of the world than I do. Imagine my irritation had I paid for watercoolers!