you can hear summer's arrival through the loud reggaeton blaring from third-floor windows and parked cars. it's summer in bushwick again.
i am not friends with summer but here we are, having bravely endured and left behind inches of snow and sub-degree temperatures. new york city in the summertime is one of two things: utter bliss or pure agony. bliss because half of new york's population crawl away to their sanctuaries in east hampton, a cabin in maine, or perhaps a tropical destination, south of miami, where you can see your feet in the water and where sunscreen must be reapplied three to four times within a two hour span. a cup of cold lemonade, sweating in your hands, keeps you cool. fireflies (yes, they exist out here) dance through the air while you lay in the park during a nighttime film screening of "roman holiday."
the rest of us are left behind to suffer, melt, and whither away with the rats in the horrific death chambers that are the subways. the breeze created by the arrival of a train brings tears of joy to your eyes, yes, let the stuffy air seep into your pores. the smells emanating from piles of trash outside food joints span from harlem to chinatown to clinton hill and flushing. you cannot escape the smell of rotting anything. a man on the l train wipes his sweaty bald head and hangs onto the pole closest to you. that's when you begin to feel your armpits perspire.
the backdrop in a bushwick summer: anonymous heaven-sent human being has pried open the fire hydrant. the water gushes from its mouth in a projectile motion, a term you learned in high school physics. the fire hydrant is the new ice cream truck--it lures the children out of their buildings and douses them in happiness. the kids laugh and screech with joy as they race through the icy cool water. the water is so frigid, but they don't care. a little girl sticks her head in and watches the water impact against her hair--it swooshes violently this way and that. a little brother or cousin perhaps yells out to his mother and shouts "mira mami! mira lo que voy a hacer!" and then he will proceed to run through while making spaceship blasting noises, as if fighting some intergalactic battle, man versus h2o.
a kind man from honduras is selling ices for $1.50. children point to the color syrup they want. you personally tend to stick to the red color, the cherry flavor and if they've run out of that, the blue will do will do just fine. maria hernandez park is filled with families laying on the grass, longtime lovers canoodling on a bench, their skins sticking to one another with sweat. some teenagers are at it with the futbol. they just saw this move during a screening of the world cup on univision so they want to try it. quick feet, quick feet.
the buff puerto rican man down your block washes his car with the busted fire hydrant, while his abuelitas play a game of dominoes under the cool shade provided by a flimsy tree, planted without much thought or care. he's wearing a puerto rican flag bandana on his forehead, "karate kid" status.
a short woman is selling sweet corn on the corner by the supermarket. she speaks so fast, her tongue rumbling in successions that formulate incomprehensible words in spanish that you opt to point instead. that one, gracias.
in the late afternoon, 20-something-year-olds scale their rusty fire escapes to catch a view of the manhattan skyline as the sun sets over the williamsburg bridge. the air is stagnant, except for the occasional breeze that catches you off guard and sends your dress flying up. manhattan looks so still from here.