Street Life: Summertime

by Riccardo Taylor

As we come to that oftentimes awesome season of the year, I think it only appropriate that we take a look at how the street flows.

Although for the most part the situations and circumstances are the same there is a difference in the way things are done. The summer brings on a sense of relief and, to some extent, a carefree attitude. Momentarily, the pressures of survival are at ease; at least for some, while others feel the full extent of the drudgery which often accompanies the season.

Seemingly, as the heat index goes up so does the violence and aggravation that so often comes with the lifestyle. The competition is much higher as more opportunities present themselves. Vying for position in the crowded lines that street people are so used to brings on a heightened response. Survival takes on a much greater urgency andit becomes “live and I don’t care if you die!” The concept of “me” becomes the rally cry for each prospect of obtaining that all-so-important need. It’s that time when push becomes shove in its gravest sense!

Every want, need, or desire is on high alert. Our options aplenty, so we take advantage where and when we can the only concern is that we get what we want when we want it! With the promise of the excitement that each warm day brings, we look forward to the rising of the sun. It’s off to see what we can get into. The hustling is fast, as we don’t have to look in an array of places for the things, which make for a blessing as it’s called. All the vices, as well as necessities, are readily available on every block.

A sandwich, a cold beer, and a blunt can all be gotten within feet of each other! Singing and dancing with a glimpse of a miniskirt are all within eyesight; it can be like heaven on earth! It is the time of year that one can forget all his troubles and trials if only for a part of the day!

Then after all the excitement and pleasure of the moment we slowly come back to reality of our situation. The misery and pain return. As the evening turns into night we have to again find that place of refuge for tonight. Seeking the comfort of safety and whatever privacy one can expect we drift off to our spot, hoping as we go that it hasn’t been occupied by another!

Yeah, sounds pretty sweet for those of us who have survived the cold winter and rainy spring months, yet for those who live this lifestyle year in, year out it is only the beginning of another set of skill sets for which our existence depends on.

Again, perhaps we don’t have to be prepared for cold or soggy nights at the end of these days, yet it’s not in the least sense a pleasure to adjust to the rancid smells of urine and alcohol that permeate every stop along our day’s journey. The only relief for which we can look forward too is the idea that we can accumulate things faster!

Sleeping in an abandoned car when the temperature is in the eighties can be harsh! Sweating while enduring the whispering of all sorts of insects during a night’s sleep can be harsh. Tossing and turning on the floor of an abandon building, trying to get in a few hours of sleep is the constant reminder that one has to forgo some of the perceived pleasures of the proceeding day, when again the sun rises. Our clothes and hygiene are a constant reminder that this is the time of year that our priorities are not being attended to.

Feeling gritty with a profound odor reminds us that we have to be up and moving before the world awakes! Getting that shower is seemingly more important now then it was during the winter and our health can suffer just as much. Needing to seek a place to cool down during the heat of the day becomes a challenge as well as a priority. Heat strokes and freezing are both a part of our reality and must be guarded against.

Our baggage becomes a bit more crowded as we must have the relief of hydration during our travels throughout the day. As in other seasons of the year we cannot afford to lose sight of our life’s mission while seeking some relief from the pressures of the lifestyle, knowing that our survival depends on our being prepared for the encounters and circumstances of each day. Still, most of us welcome the season, a time when we can livecarefree to some degree! Ah! The summertime.