wander the sea

Summer in Harlem

The sun was still out, and heat permeated through the brownstones heading down Lenox Avenue. Some kids were walking out from the Marcus Garvey Park pool in their bathing suits hidden underneath their clothes with towels hanging on their necks. They looked refreshed, and their hair wet, ready to dry in the cool hours of soon to be evening. Me and my sister were dying of walking and searching for the amphitheater, which happened to be on the other side of the park. We asked a lady with gray dreadlocks for directions and she pointed us the right way. There wasn’t anyone around except for a few attendees. The play was still an hour away so we walked to Harlem Shake for burgers, fries, and a cool lemonade. We planned to come back and still find descent seats at the amphitheater for The Tempest.

We figured Harlem Shake didn’t always have that name. It was a little corner spot from the 1950s. (They got the name from the dance, and made the burger joint to resemble diners from the 1940s.) The walls were a sea green, and the chairs, shiny silver. We approached the front counter and looked up at the lettering on the wall menu: old black letters, that one had to switch by hand or possibly a knob. The place had a red jukebox on the side and old posters on the wall. The bathroom was pale green and had an electrical dryer that turned on when you stepped on the bottom. The bathroom door had a fuzzy window that didn’t completely convinced me it was not transparent. But alas the glass blurred the person inside. I wanted to steal this vintage bathroom for a future memory. The walls were covered with Jet magazine covers from its first publications to recent ones.

We said we’d come back another time, and stay for longer. Now at the amphitheater, it was not crowded, most of the good seats were taken, but for some reason the second row was empty. As it got closer to the start, the rows filled up. The lighting changed, and the sound of fury began. First a storm brewing, a boat on the open sea, and finally a flying spirit that overtook the boat.

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