instead of reunion, or “oh in 5 years time”
I sit in the grass, my fingers stretched out behind me, pulling absentmindedly at the stalks. Stalks… Strands? Blades. There it is. I am staring in a blurred state of joy at the beautiful humans in front of me. They are frolicking around on the commencement stage, giggling and falling in and out of handstands and other acrobatic positions that are far from graceful. I push myself up, brush my hands off, rub them against my flowy black pants, more worn than any article of clothing I own, dangerous holes in the pockets. I am rocking my signature uniform of the year. Baggy black pants rolled a couple of times at the bottom, a loose fitting black crop top, and an open maroon silk blouse. Barefoot. The blouse and the pants once my mother’s. As were the ivory earrings dangling from my ears. The guilt I feel at wearing ivory is quickly justified by how old they are, how much sentiment they carry. My look is from another era, and I love it completely.
I walk to the stage and lift myself on to it. Music is playing from speakers in the grass. Delicate Steve or Haim. One song flows in and out of the next. There are maybe 7 or 8 of us at most. It is midnight. The night is ours and it is the last. I twirl a few times, arch my back and lift my leg over my head. Dancer. A click of a disposable camera, and the moment is captured forever, not to be revealed for another year or two, the camera left in a box of forgotten things. The night will take us back through the years. A lifetime of adventures squeezed into 4 parts, revisited over a number of hours.
The crew is beginning to disperse, each person grabbing their person or two and vanishing into the adventure of the night. I take the wrists of two of my best friends. A boy I’d slept with once or twice whispers into my ear that he wants to take me home. I look at him and smile, he was sweet and in another time of my life I would have followed him, but in that moment sex is the last thing on my mind. I turn him down gently, apologetically, and he seems to understand why, in that unique way that the occasional sweet boy is able to. I make a small mental note of my innate priorities, who will always come first. We skip out of time and space.
“Let’s go to water.” A text slogan of Vermont Spring. Driving is out of the question, and the only pool available to us is the manmade pond behind the arts center, home to god knows what (the poison oak i develop in the coming days is evidence of at least one plant that lived on its shores). Blouse crop pants etcetera thrown off and bodies plunged in. It is warm and gross and still and wonderful. We splash around. The water magic on our skin. Our senses heightened from the drugs yet again, for better or for worse. We jump up and down to shake off the excess water, pull our dry clothes over our damp bodies. And run.
We run through memories and undiscovered places. The world is so big and so small.
We run towards the rumors of a removable grate that allow us to climb underneath our world. A great place to smoke weed and feel like a secret. It sounded cooler than it is. We find the spot in the dewy grass, raise the grate from its secure place and descend. It is wet and dewy from the leftover rain. There is little space to stand and nowhere to sit. So we take a breath and smile, acknowledge our accomplishment. Another thing checked off the list.
We run to where it all began. It’s locked. So we wander. The Dungeon. A faintly familiar freshman dorm, the basement level. One Halloween night 4 years prior a politically incorrect Pocahontas (now she knows better) slept with a scrawny pirate for the first time. He was from my hometown and we discovered that we were both at a Blink 182 and Weezer concert 3,000 miles away a year before this place brought us together, so it must have been fate or love or something like that. We sneak inside. I poke my head into the abandoned room and laugh. What a lifetime ago.
I seek nostalgia like the single glove I lost to Vermont Winter. If I just look hard enough.
Minutes before the sun is set to rise. We crawl out the window of the forth floor hallway from my sophomore dorm. There, on the balcony, we smoke a joint and watch the sun rise on my last day of formal education. I look at my friend. The sky is bright blue and the sun cracks through it in this swirling glow of white light. It matches the glitter on her eyelids, the blue of her sweatshirt. Her smile is of stoned joy and it is for me. A goodbye a hello a good luck. A click of the disposable camera.
Will some of those days always remain the most magical? Will anything else ever even come close? Or does the mix of youth and drugs and the potential of the never ending unknown create that unique sort of joy that can never be surpassed? I wonder. Nostalgia often brings me back to that time. I don’t miss it exactly. I look back on so much of it with anger at the place, the administration, the ongoing problems of the elitism and racism of higher education. Surrounded by the 0.1% unaware of their privilege. But in between the bullshit were moments of pure glistening joy and freedom and discovery. Moments I put in my pocket and carry with me everywhere I go. Friendships that taught me how two souls can connect and pulsate off each other, remaining their own but feeding their sister. There is so much I didn’t do or know to do, but if i could do it again I wouldn’t. There is a reason those years are so finite. They can only happen once. We make of them what we will, and that’s enough.