This is the longest day of the year. There is an inordinate amount of sunshine. It is invariably hot. This day is associated with millenia of traditions and rituals, but no one around here observes them. I do not get a day off, and no one buys me presents.
By some measures it is my favorite day of the year. This is because I am the sort of person who eats her vegetables first: I’d rather suffer through the bad parts now and relax through the good parts later. Other people are reveling in the long days and warm temperatures. Fools! Everything from here on out is one long march toward winter.
Or, for those who prefer wheels, it is one long bike ride toward winter. My bicycle has finally found a new home. It has been bartered away for catsitting services, garden plunder, and moving help, with the understanding that I might not be cashing in on the moving help anytime soon. I am not moving till such time as I become independently wealthy or, as a backup plan, till such time as I find gainful employment elsewhere. (I am still waiting to hear back from this one job application I submitted. It is an agonizing exercise in being patient.)
The other day I walked to Rite-Aid, a drugstore I instinctively distrust due to its unorthodox spelling—though perhaps I am being uncharitable. Perhaps the store’s mission is to aid us in our rites, rather than to offer aid of a correct nature. If this is the case, I a puzzled by the absence of any aids for my Solstice rites. Didn’t see a single solstice promotion in there, unless it was the display of sunblock lotions.
As I was walking back from the Rite-Aid, I heard music in the parking lot. This is not unusual. I hear music blaring from that parking lot all the time. What was unusual was the nature of the music. Almost invariably what I hear is Hip Hop or one of its cousins. This sounded like Punk.
Trotting a bit further along on my walk back home, I discovered the source of the unexpected music: a young man with his radio, lounging against a wall. Then I realized I recognized him.
“Shouldn’t you be in the library?” I called out. I’d never spoken to him before, but he’s one of my regulars. Comes in for the computer, never bothers anyone. Looks like he’s in his early twenties.
“Closes early on the weekends,” he answered. Oh. Right. I knew that.
“What’s your name?” he continued, and my estimate of his age dropped a few years. He didn’t sonud old enough to drink.
“Most people just call me Roof Bum.”
“Because I used to live on that roof over there.”
“Oh. How’s the view from up there?”
“Nice, but it sucks when it rains.”
Turns out that my quiet and unassuming patron is a street kid. I’m not sure if there’s a moral to this story, but if there is one, it’s that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people. Even a basic assumption—“This person has a place to live”—might be wrong. And if there’s another moral to this story, it’s that it’s heartbreaking to discover yet again that there are homeless kids right here in the richest nation in the world.
The birds have been chirping for a few minutes now—it’s five o’clock in the morning, which I am bearing witness to only because I fell asleep last night at seven—so I can report that the solstice is safely underway and that winter is going to rear its beautiful head in about six months. Sorry for the brevity here, and for having skipped last weekend, but I’ve been busy with some NoveList stuff. I’ll write again next weekend, or else early next week, when I report back from my one count’em one day at the ALA exhibits.