Playing in the Street

I came to a realization the other day about why I love biking in the city so much--why weaving in and out of traffic (usually faster than traffic, actually) and why dodging wayward pedestrians gives me such a rush.

I like playing in the street.

It wasn't about speed or exercise.  It was literally about being in the street.  You see, growing up in Brooklyn, the street is where all the action is.  You start out as a little kid envious of the older kids that were allowed to play in the street.  Sometimes, we'd inch out and lean up against parked cars in between them just to feel like we were in the street without actually being in harms way.  When you grow up on some suburban cul de sac, there's nearly no difference between the street and the sidewalk--nothing ever happens anywhere.  But in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, being in the street meant you were in the game.  You weren't relegated to just throwing a football around in front of your house.  You could play three, even four sewers (in Brooklyn, you measured the field by the length between manhole covers).  Wiffleball could be played crossways, pitching from one curb to another. 

I realize that division has affected even the way I work.  I think if you grew up just with organized sports and activities, where everyone got a chance to play, you'd be content being a passive participant.  You wouldn't want to lead deals--you'd just be happy to get your piece--a participation trophy.  When you grow up in an environment where you had to earn your way into a game, and the game took place in the street, you think and work differently.  I do my job on the ground--showing up to hackathons, late night co-working sessions, and I try to be places where there's stuff being made--where the kids are playing in the street. 

You run more risks that way--you might knock off a car mirror with a football (been there, done that)--but it's also a lot more fun than the sidewalk.