Where Are Your Friends Tonight?

Last summer I nailed the screen in my window to the frame, preventing it from being pushed in or out. I had to do it because of our cats. On summer nights, when the heat got so intense in the house it became impossible to sleep, they’d push the screens out of the open windows to go wandering through the streets, hunting the breeze they hadn’t really felt since we moved here from Ontario. Of course, every time this happened we’d spend the time between their escape and recovery in a state of panic, worrying about the fate of our de-clawed and mildly obese charges. It was this worry which eventually led us to nail my screen shut. As the hammer pounded out the sentence, I allowed myself to mourn the window, both literal and figurative, which I was closing. I thought back to the summer before, when I’d slipped out the same window and into the night.
My conspirators and I had planned it out perfectly. We hid my shoes under the bed and placed a stool under the window, removed the then unsecured screen and set up a signal to let me know when to make the leap over the windowsill and out into the streets. Everything was optimized for stealth and speed, and when the time came to make my move everything went off without a hitch. I met up with my team a few blocks from my house and together we marched through the orange pools of streetlights and darkened corners of our wicked little town. Together, we own the streets; we’re lawless and only as young as we choose to be. We can do anything and just to prove it we hug the ground to our chests and crawl under the bent up fence surrounding the golf course.
Once we’re inside we unfold a blanket and lay it out wide enough for all of us to sit on it. There’s a meteor shower, so we lie on our backs and count the tiny dots of light moving through a place we’ll never visit. Whenever a car drives by we tense up, afraid of discovery in spite of our knowledge that everyone driving by is far too busy to notice some kids on a golf course; far too busy to notice the sky is falling in above them. Watching them pass also serves to remind us that we have places to be, that we can’t lay there under the apocalypse forever, and soon we’re back on the roads that take us home, away from the blinking lights and other revelations the dead, dry streets hold.
More than anything I wish I was still back there, but that seems more and more impossible as time passes. The candles on a birthday cake are like nails in windows, and a person can never wish themselves back to somewhere they’ve already been. Friends grow distant and cold like the air in their hometowns; essays, tests and paragraphs start to grow out the bottoms of your feet, like roots through clay; girls get jobs and new friends and bosses and boyfriends, and girls find god crushed up inside ecstasy tablets and hospital dressing gowns. Friends leave town for somewhere new, leaving docks empty as the streets on summer nights, but colder. Applications get filed, portfolios neglected and mud settles into carpets until you’re old. You still can’t find what you used to have, and you still can’t shake the dust.
But for now I’m seventeen, and I have a lot left to lose; a lot left of me to leave on the streets and a lot of people to help me leap into the night. So maybe wishes could still come true, and maybe even if they don’t I can be alright with now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never really left have I?
left town, maybe, but I've never really left?

I like the bit about the cats...and the rest that follows.