I've been walking around Harlem a lot these past days, making trips from my old house to my new house, back and forth, like a pack-horse. It's great exercise but it's so hot that wearing clothing is almost unbearable. Don't worry--I have restrained myself, but I have resorted to wearing sleeveless shirts that show off the big temporary tattoo I applied to my upper arm on Wednesday (a heart pierced by an arrow). My super thought I had a real tattoo, which was funny, and I kind of like how realistic it looks. Walking around in Harlem with a tattoo, even a fake one, puts a little more swagger in my step, and even though tattoos are nothing new here, I feel like I've got a little bit more street cred with it on display. Combined with my tough "Harlem face" that I use to prevent wierdos from approaching me, you'd think I'd be left alone. But actually I have had several interesting interactions with strangers today.
The first one was when I was at the LDS church house, waiting to be let in so I could help clean it. A lady named Agatha approached me and asked if I could tell her about this church I was standing next to. I told her a little bit about LDS beliefs, how we are Christians and believe that Jesus is our Savior, and I told her that we believe in baptism, repentance, a prophet--I even shared the Joseph Smith story with her, about his prayer and how he restored the truth that had been lost to the earth. I surprised myself how much stuff I was able to pack into that conversation, and was also surprised at how well she took the info. And I tried not to laugh when she asked if I lived in the church, or if the prophet lived in the church. I invited her to come to church, but she said she is a faithful member of a church in the Bronx. Still, hopefully I was able to share the spirit with her, and perhaps someday soon she will want to come and learn more. We parted ways with handshakes, smiles, and God-bless-yous.
It has been so hot that I have to restrain myself from eating ice cream all day. It's especially hard when the ice cream trucks are everywhere you go. Mister Softee patrols midtown, but in my neighborhood are some look-alikes with equally delicious fare. Last evening on my walk I saw a battle between a Good Humor truck and Kool Man. In a game of ice-cream truck stare down, they each vied for a spot next to a little park full of kids, blasting their jingles with full force so that one tune was indistinguishable from the next. Eventually Kool Man gave up and sped away, in search of his own sweet spot. Maybe it passed the horde of children playing in the spout of an open hydrant a few blocks away. I wanted to jump in the water with them, but my ipod wouldn't let me.
Another delicious treat to eat to beat the heat (what the?) is the frozen fruit popsicles that the guys in Central Park sell. I don't know what their real name is, but they are popsicles made of chunks of frozen fruit. My favorite is strawberry, and I feel like it's healthier than eating ice cream because there are actual chunks of strawberries in it. And it is so delicious! I ran an errand near 110th Street today and grabbed one as I headed into the subway to go home. But by the time I was done eating it, 15 minutes later, no trains were in sight, so I decided to just walk home. On the way, I ran into my friend G-Chameleon, who I also ran into the day before yesterday, randomly, on 5th Avenue. He walked me home and then continued on his journey to Pathmark.
While we were walking, a random lady that we passed on the sidewalk asked us if we liked summer or winter. I said I like autumn. She said she would take a year of winter rather than the heat we are enduring now. Garrett likes the heat of summer, and I guess it's not that bad. After all, E is in Arizona, where it is 115 today. Here it is in the 80s, but the sun and cement and 60% humidity combine into a deadly force that sucks the life out of you unless you are lounging by a pool with a cold drink, or living it up with A/C in your house. Or happen to be standing under the open windows of the Post Office on 125th Street, which I couldn't help noticing a few nights ago, was closed for business but had all its windows open and A/C blasting out into the hot July night. The windows are too high up off the ground for anyone to get inside, but the way they tilted downward was making the perfect air stream of cool refreshingness for passersby, who, unlike me, don't seem to be bothered that our taxpayers money is being squandered in such a way. Sigh.... I don't have a pool or air conditioning, but I do have a bathtub to clean, so that will have to do. And after I'm done I'll reward myself with ice cream.