Musical Selection: Harry Styles|Watermelon Sugar
Summer in the Bronx
And love, unspeakable love.
For what seemed like countless summers of my upbringing, I’d be shipped off to my family in New York, specifically, the Bronx, in order to find some semblance of relief from boredom and the murderous heat of Savannah, Georgia. I’d count the days toward the middle of May and flaunt my happiness to my friends as much as I could, however, I knew I’d miss them.
I knew I’d want to know what their days would entail without me.
In the summer of ’98, I had two crushes: Joel & Mackenzie. Joel was Puerto Rican & Black and Mackenzie was Jamaican but was raised in Queens for the bulk of her life. (Every other weekend, she’d visit her aunts and cousins in the Bronx.) I lusted over them— would do anything for the heat of their presence to sway my way, however, I was not out then, so Mackenzie could never know my true feelings.
I paraded around my Grandma’s neighborhood, tossing back coconut icies, running through fire hydrants, and staying out late in the park. Bronx heat was a bomber; a killer, if you will. We’d have blackouts that’d last for days and I would find myself yearning for the sunlight just to get a glimpse of Joel and his smile or Mackenzie and her long legs.
I used to think she walked on clouds and I wanted to know just how soft her steps were.
She’d call me “Tree” with a hint of her Jamaican accent slipping through and she’d ask me to turn the ropes when we played Double Dutch. And what a damn honor that was — what it did to and for my ego . . . *Mac wants me to turn again. Maybe she knows.* But I was just hella good at turning the ropes and going with her flow and although I wanted to flow with her in other ways, I settled for our daily games.
Joel came and went. He was fluid, like water. I couldn’t catch him and even if I could, my hands weren’t big enough to hold him. He’d slide through every single time. Enigmatic — that’s how I described him.
He would sit near me on the park swings and just talk. Just talk . . . He had a gold tooth and a fat herringbone chain and my Grandma used to yell from our fifth-floor window for me to “get my fast ass upstairs” and I always ran away from him. Authority was our downfall — I never truly felt his heat until I couldn’t have it.
Summer became my favorite season that year. It was the year I’d compare all others to. It was the year I searched for the heat I loved and the heat I lost. I often wonder how both of them are doing; if Mac still walks on clouds and if Joel is still hard to catch.
I wonder, sincerely wonder if they knew about my heat.