Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Soul of Summertime

It. Is. Hot.

I have a couple of blog posts in the works but they're not complete and I haven't made the time to finish them. I'm hot. Very, very hot. Did I mention that I am hot? Still, I needed to post something today and then I remebered the piece below and thought it would be cool to share with you guys. It was written by Kevin Powell and orginally appeared in the June/July 1996 issue of Vibe. Yes I keep clips from that long ago. Even older ones in fact if they really speak to me. I'm a magazine junkie so I can't help it.

What is so special about these words you're wondering? They're actually not all that "special" at all. Very plain and simple but honest and vunerable too. It is more about the memories they evoke. Great writng is like great style: timeless. Every single time I read this article by Kevin I smile and think back to the summers I spent in my grandparents yard "Down South" in North Carolina and the ones I spent at home in Jamaica, Queens. Memories of matching short sets (my mother was big on coordinating), Skips (generic/knock-off Keds), double-dutch (I never learned how to jump and I'm double-handed) and lightening bugs (why don't they come out anymore????).

Okay, I'm rambling but I hope someone feels this. Thanks for these words Kevin. It is 12 years and counting... And although it is technically still Spring -- Happy Summer!

Me and my cousin D in our great Aunt Des's yard circa 1984 (or so). I had just arrived from the "big city" for a N.C. visit. Don't let the barefoot, country thing fool you. D is now married to an awesome guy, is the mother of two bright children and has some fancy-smancy gig as a hospital director.

The Soul of Summertime by Kevin Powell

Just when things seem to be getting worse around the way -- so and so got shot, that girl's having another baby, homeboy's pops got the AIDS -- summer in all its multiflavored blissfulness steps to us, bathes us in sunshine and says, Yo kid, everything's gonna be I-ight.

Really, though, there is something truly theraputic, even liberating, about the sights, sounds, and soul of summer: the boys scopin' out the girls and the girls scopin' out the boys, the colorful and all-too-revealing clothes, the mobile stereo systems better known as cars and jeeps, the all-day barbeques and spirited games of dominoes, the tiny bodies splashing through water blasting from open hydrants, and all the folks taking in the show from the safety of their rooftops and fire escapes.

Summertime is like that cool-ass cousin from Down South who makes his or her way to the big city just to chill for a few months and -- along the way-- shows you things you never dreamed possible: walks in the park with a newfound love, house parties without beefs or turf wars, music festivals where your body moves in ways your mama said would surely lead you to the devil, and a scorching sun that makes it okay to sweat and smell a little funky 'cause everybody is sweaty and funky.

That cool-ass cousin from Down South knows what time it is: time to lay back in the cut, reflect, regroup from a hellish winter or hard year at school, switch jobs, plot for the rest of the year, and eat as much food as you can -- especially when somebody else is cooking it. And just like that cool-ass cousin when he or she's about to peace you out and head home, as summer fades, you can't help but smile and say, Thanks for everything. I can't wait to see you again next year.

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