It had been a long night, the third act in a long weekend. This was the second day where we were going to be up until midnight, though it was also my third. I probably shouldn’t have been driving, but I was anyway. But I wasn’t driving right then.
It was too loud and too bright and too dark and too many people and too much of that musty smell that tends to accumulate in theatre dressing rooms: sweat and hair spray and teenage hormones. Neither of us cared for the music, and neither of us knew how to dance.
We were both outside on the patch of grass that wasn’t golf course and wasn’t cold tile porch. I asked if I could sit with you and you said no, but then said yes right afterwards. We both laughed: it was just that kind of night. We were both tired and overwhelmed. Mistakes happen. You can’t get upset over something like that.
So we laid down on the grass and stared up at the sky, watching airplanes and their little blinking lights and trying to spot the north star and the big dipper and wondering about how bright an airplane’s’ headlights must be, that we can see them from all the down here
The grass was cold and rough, and that was good. A welcome contrast. It was quiet, too, except for us and the mumbles of couples who were ignoring the rest of the world. We talked about a lot of things out there on the grass. We made plans we probably wouldn’t keep. We talked about alcohol, and boys, and why girls had the wear high heels and how it felt to be five-foot-nothing. I forgot whether or not I was five foot or five foot one inch. It didn’t really matter.
You told me that IPAs tasted better than white wine and how you pretended to be cleaning and setting the table that time in Pennsylvania when you tried your father’s for the first time. I told you that I would take you out in my father’s old pickup truck and we could really watch the stars, far enough away that there wouldn’t be light pollution. We both thought that maybe it would be good if electric lights and the internet had never been invented, the epitome of clueless private school kids, confused and desperate to fix the flaws in the world.
All good things come to an end, and somebody else got too touchy, and everybody standing too far out of the light got yelled at, told to go back inside. Or at least up on the porch. We both rolled our eyes, pretended we didn’t care, even though we did, and took our time walking up those two steps and back into reality. I don’t think that lady–middle aged with a small ring of fat about her abdomen, wearing too much makeup and too much white–realized what she was taking away from us. I’m not sure if we really realized at the time, either.
We stood there for a few more minutes. Until the guy I liked walked back up the steps, looking more worried that he usually does, and my friends walked back down to ignore the rules. We talked about boys again. Fears of commitment, and how relationships seem like a good idea from a distance, but not really worth it once you’re wedged inside one. It sounded like shallow girl-talk. It felt different.
The guy and my friends were there for a little bit, but they both went their separate ways and I thought about Robert Frost a bit, and decided that decisions were for people that knew what they wanted and kept talking to you. You were on one leg, putting your heels back on. I was standing barefoot, forgetting for once how my toes looked funny and not very nice.
Eventually, we both went back inside. I wandered back out again, talked with a few people, exchanging words I probably won’t remember. Sat down behind a column to read a book. Thought for a bit. I don’t know what you did. I just know I didn’t see you again that night. I was kind of disappointed. I felt like we got to know each other pretty well. Felt normal for once, not like a hanger-on or radical or crazy.
So, thanks. Thanks for the words and the ideas and the stars. Without you, I wouldn’t have looked up. And sometimes looking up is the best thing you can do.