If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?
Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.
1972, it’s early evening and there’s a slight breeze in the summer air at the playground by 167 and Jerome Ave in the Bronx. I’m laid out on a blanket under a tree with Mami; Papi is practicing his soccer kicks on the grass with my Woolworth’s purchased imitation soccer ball. Occasionally, the rumble of the number 4 train can be heard passing on the el.
Two other families, one Puerto Rican and the other Dominican, ten to twelve deep are setting up together about twenty feet away. We recognize them; they’re regulars here too. They both live in the next building over from us. We’re the only Hungarian family they ‘know’. The men set up chairs; they ready their congas, bongos, tambourines (panderetas), guiros, and maracas for entertainment. The women set out food and beverages, enough to feed an army, it seems.
Mami and me get up off our blanket and walk over. I already know Mami offers to help the women. They accept. I go to play with the kids. Papi and the men wave hello. One of the older boys goes up to Papi and they start to kick the ball around.
Pretty soon it seems as though three families had come together. Mami brings our lone blanket closer and calls me to bring my bicycle, the one that I am still trying to learn how to ride. The breeze carries the delicious smell of arroz con gandules and fried chicken. My mouth can’t help but water. After dropping my bike off by the blanket, I glance over and notice potato and macaroni salads, chips, and all manner of sweets. At seven years old, I’m loving it.
Sometimes, what I wouldn’t do to go back to such an easier and carefree time. I was young and didn’t feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders on my worst days. I had my beloved parents with me. That evening in the park with the two families turned into the start of a beautiful friendship between the three families.
I can still hear the rhythm and the beat of the congas in my head to this day. Milo, one of the sons of the Dominican family, became my best friend. We became so close that my parents allowed me to spend a summer in Santo Domingo the following year.
One summer back in time would satisfy me. That’s all I ask.